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Reclassify Internet providers for ‘net neutrality’ -NY Times


WASHINGTON Aug 14 (Reuters) – U.S. regulators’ new “net
neutrality” rules should classify Internet providers more like
public utilities to prevent them from potentially slowing users’
access to some Web content, the New York Times said in an
editorial in Thursday’s newspaper.

The statement comes as the Federal Communications Commission
is preparing to set the new rules, which would regulate how
Internet service providers, or ISPs, manage traffic on their
networks. In January, a federal court struck down the agency’s
previous version of those rules.

The FCC is now collecting public comment on the rules it
tentatively proposed in May, which the New York Times called
troubling.

While prohibiting ISPs from blocking any content, the
proposal suggested allowing some “commercially reasonable” deals
where content companies, such as Netflix Inc or
Amazon.com Inc, could pay ISPs, such as Comcast Corp
or Verizon Communications Inc, to ensure smooth
and fast delivery of their Web traffic.

Although FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has insisted the agency
would carefully guard against abuse of the rules, the proposal
drew ire from public interest groups and large Web companies.
They say it would result in faster download speeds for some
content as other data would be relegated to “slow lanes.”

Consumer advocates have called on the FCC to instead
reclassify ISPs as telecommunications services rather than as
the less-regulated information services they are now, saying the
move would give more power to the FCC to stop potential
violators of net neutrality.

The New York Times has now joined their ranks, pointing to
President Barack Obama’s recent comments at a recent conference
with African leaders in Washington, where he said an equally
accessible Internet is important for “the next Google
or the next Facebook.”

The New York Times editorial said: “Small and young
businesses will not be able to compete against established
companies if they have to pay fees to telephone and cable
companies to get content to users in a timely manner.”

A better option, the paper said, would be for the FCC to
reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications
service, which would allow the regulators to prohibit ISPs from
“engaging in unjust or unreasonable discrimination against
content.”

Experts have disagreed on whether or how reclassification
would adequately prevent pay-for-priority deals.

ISPs and Republicans, both in Congress and at the FCC,
strongly oppose reclassification, saying a heavier regulatory
burden may hurt investment in broadband networks.

The ISPs also say they support an open Internet and having
some content in “slow lanes” would upset their customers and so
is not in their interest.

Wheeler has not proposed reclassification as the solution,
but has not taken it off the table as a potential route.

To read the editorial, click: nyti.ms/1pamKuu

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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