In some comments at the US Africa Leaders Summit in DC yesterday, President Obama claimed that he’s absolutely against fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet – which is pretty interesting given that his own FCC appears to be poised to allow exactly that:
Net neutrality in the United States — one of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers.
That’s the big controversy here….
You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more and also charge more for spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster.
I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users.
You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.
Again, the current proposal from the FCC would actually allow just that. Of course, prepared remarks like these are carefully scoured by White House staff, so this isn’t an offhand remark. As with Harry Reid’s recent statements, it’s entirely possible that this statement is a public nod towards Title II reclassification — something that Wheeler has previously suggested there wasn’t enough political support for. But if powerful Senators and the President are standing behind blocking fast and slow lanes, it certainly seems like the “there isn’t political support” argument is quickly disappearing.
This certainly doesn’t make it a done deal by any stretch of the imagination, but there is reason to believe that Wheeler has been using this comment period to see if there really would be political support for recassification. It’s increasingly looking like there is — and it’s going to be up to Wheeler to see if he’s willing to be a true leader and make the right call for how to protect an open and free internet, rather than the “easy” call.
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