On Tuesday, Senior Republicans announced that they won’t interfere with the FCC vote on net neutrality rules expected to be passed Thursday. The Republican shift is the result of a lack of Democratic support, as well as a well-orchestrated lobby coming form the President and an army of “open Internet” activists.
The Republicans’ initial plans were to overturn Thursday’s vote by means of a new legislation. But, the Democratic commissioners are already in talks with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about several technical issues. So, it is very likely that they will support Tom Wheeler’s vote on Thursday against the Republican commissioners.
Other congressional Republicans, who had described the FCC initiative to regulate the Internet service as “Obamacare for the Internet,” recently said that they won’t pass the overturning legislation without the Democratic support.
“We’re not going to get a signed bill that doesn’t have Democrats’ support. This is an issue that needs to have bipartisan support,”
stated the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Seemingly, Senate Democrats currently plan to wait until Thursday before starting the negotiations on new legislation on net neutrality. Even the architect of the new legislation that was supposed to overturn FCC rules said that Democrats were affected by a sudden change of mind.
Still, many net neutrality supporters including Mozilla, Twitter, Etsy, Chess.com, and Netflix are now thrilled that the FCC rules have been given the green light.
Dave Steer from the Mozilla foundation said that the victory was all the more surprising since open internet supporters had been “outspent and outlobbied” while they were battling the cable company giants such as Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner.
But internet service providers and cable companies claim tat a more strict regulation will result in higher costs and diminished opportunity to invest into a faster Internet. They fear that the government may step in and request new taxes on an open internet, while they also complain that net neutrality advocates had demonized anyone who opposes the new regulation.
Yet, net neutrality supporters believe that the new FCC rules will prevent cable companies from pushing unfair practices such as throttling the net traffic for some content providers, or asking additional fees for faster lanes.
Last summer, Netflix had to close a backdoor deal with Verizon and Comcast to improve its bandwidth performance, but although it had paid the two ISPs an undisclosed sum of money, only Comcast had improved its service.
President Obama recently reported that the FCC rules had also the support of nearly 4 million public comments which were requesting an end to paid fast lane services.
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