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FCC Set to Address Net Neutrality

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Chairman of the FCC - Julius GenachowskiChairman of the FCC – Julius Genachowski

The issue of net neutrality is one that is viewed quite differently by the various parties involved. Consumers would typically argue that there is a need for the FCC to monitor and intervene in certain areas concerning web traffic. For instance, a lot of consumers would prefer that the commission puts in place guidelines that would require that providers of broadband internet service and other wireless carriers give equal treatment to all web traffic and not subject internet activities such as video streaming to lesser speeds.

Previous meetings of the FCC had shifted any decisions to be made on net neutrality till after the completion of elections in November. Now with the November elections already concluded the commission is bringing up the issue of net neutrality again and according the Reuters news agency, it is expected that the FCC meeting that would address the issues surrounding net neutrality would be held sometime in December.

The initial date set for the meeting was December 15th; however the date has been postponed till December 20th in order for the FCC to be able to set the proper items that will be on the agenda for the meeting. Usually, FCC’s meeting agendas are released about three weeks to the actual date of the meeting. While there are indicators that net neutrality may be one of the items on the agenda, there has been no direct or actual confirmation from the FCC that the issue will be discussed as the main agenda during the December meeting.

According to Jeffery Silva, an analyst, there are strong signs that the commission may be considering voting on the issue in December. He also believes that the FCC is also carefully weighing the position of the Capitol Hill on net neutrality and considering what their next line of action should be on the matter.

Matters that will be of chief interest to the FCC on net neutrality will include a consideration of reclassifying internet services along the same parameters as regular telephone services. By doing this the commission will have a more solid legal basis for ensuring that broadband internet service providers follow it’s laid down guidelines as the legality of the body’s authority over the internet service providers has often been contested in the courts.

According to a report from Reuters, a research analysis from Stifel Nicolaus has indicated that there is a likelihood that FCC may decide to drop reclassification and instead adopt the net neutrality bill created in September by Henry Waxman, the House Commerce Chairman. The bill is however still in draft form as it has not been able to progress in the house despite being favored by providers in the industry.

However, whatever ruling the FCC makes on net neutrality is expected have a differing line of treatment for wired and wireless providers. It is expected that the FCC will give the wireless providers more leeway to give more priority to voice calls on their networks than video services.

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