WASHINGTON Jan 28 The top U.S. communications
regulator said on Tuesday he planned to set broad principles to
guide how Internet service providers manage consumers' access to
the Web and would pursue abuse or anti-competitiveness on a
"The Internet is evolving so rapidly that we want to look at
case sets as well as generic concept rules, so that what we
don't want to do is to say that somehow we're smarter than the
net, because I can stipulate to that, we aren't," said Federal
Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.
"Case-by-case is a dynamic approach rather than, 'well,
everybody's got to go through the eye of this needle.' And
that's how we look to approach this," Wheeler said at the State
of the Net conference in Washington.
Two weeks ago a U.S. appeals court struck down the FCC's
so-called open Internet rules that required Internet services
providers to give consumers equal access to any Web content or
applications without restrictions or varied charges.
The ruling raised concerns among consumer advocates that it
would start a practice among broadband providers, such as
Verizon Communications Inc or Comcast Corp, to
charge content providers, such as Netflix Inc or sports
ESPN, for faster Internet speeds to access their websites and
Verizon, which had brought the case to the court, and other
large Internet providers have pledged not to restrict their
customers' use of the web.
Verizon had argued that the FCC rules, passed in late 2010,
represented government overreach into how they operate their
networks. Opponents of the rules also see them as government
micro-managing of how the companies handle bandwidth-guzzling
processes on their own networks.
Video-streaming is by far the heaviest bandwidth hog on the
Internet. Netflix and Google Inc's YouTube alone are
estimated to account for more than half of all downstream
Internet traffic at peak hours.
"We believe that markets should be innovative and at the
same point in time, we are not reticent to say, 'Excuse me,
that's anti-competitive. Excuse me, that's self-dealing. Excuse
me, this is consumer abuse,'" Wheeler said.
The appeals court decision was the second time that the
rules were struck down by the court, which on Jan. 14 ruled the
FCC had failed to show that it has a mandate to impose the
anti-discrimination rules on broadband providers, although it
reaffirmed the FCC's authority to regulate broadband access.
"I interpret what the court did as an invitation to us and
that I intend to accept that invitation," Wheeler said on
Tuesday. He has also said he was exploring all options,
including an appeal.
The FCC had classified broadband providers as information
service providers as opposed to telecommunications service
providers, and that distinction created a legal hurdle for the