Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Tom Wheeler is drafting a "hybrid" proposal to expand the agency's authority over broadband Internet service. The bid aims to satisfy both consumers and providers, according to sources of the Wall Street Journal.
At the present time, no final decision on the hotly debated topic of net neutrality has been reached, as the current proposal requires approvals from all five members of the commission, which is composed of two Democrats and three Republicans. The plan also needs to address legal questions from broadband providers, especially those that oppose the net neutrality rules.
The agency has been battling "Internet throttling" - slowing down online speeds for some users - or blocking certain content at particular times of the day.
Part of the proposal is to categorize broadband into two sections: retail and back-end. Retail broadband customers pay for Internet connection, while back-end service allows providers to act as a distributing channel of websites for their content.
Additionally, the back-end service will be classified as a common carrier, which will give the agency more power over deals between content and broadband providers. However, there is still chance that the providers might reject the proposal, as they have long wanted to be classified as "information services" instead, which requires lesser regulation.
The hybrid proposal is expected to reclassify broadband so that the FCC can have more authority over the deals of the broadband providers. Wheeler also wants to make sure that the final proposal will be accepted by the court. The agency plans to adopt the hybrid approach added under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to ensure that Internet access is provided to consumers in a reasonable and timely fashion.
A formal proposal might be released by next month; sources of the New York Times said. But, it could also be delayed until the first quarter of next year.
An FCC spokesperson said that agency is still looking at other reclassification proposals from Mozilla, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and others.