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U.S. FCC to take more time on net neutrality following Obama's position

Matt Hamblen | Nov. 11, 2014
Obama's recommendations are far-reaching, affecting cable and phone companies, including wireless providers.

Reactions among member of Congress to Obama's net neutrality position fell along party lines, with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) commending Obama. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) said using Title II rules would "turn the Internet into a government-regulated utility and stifle our nation's dynamic and robust Internet sector with rules nearly 80 years ago for plain old telephone service."

Digital rights groups such as Fight for the Future, MoveOn and the government accountability group Common Cause applauded Obama's position to enforce an open Internet through Title II common carrier provisions.

However, the Internet Innovation Alliance, an organization that supports broadband expansion, said using Title II would inhibit high-speed broadband deployment. The alliance's position comes as a surprise since last week the group proposed expanding the nation's Lifeline program, which subsidizes telephone and mobile service to the poor, to include broadband Internet service.

Alliance Chairman Richard Baucher, who was a U.S. congressman for 28 years, said using Section 706 instead of Title II to keep the Internet open would be a more "surgical" approach that has been endorsed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. "All the [reasons] to use Title II can be addressed with Section 706 but won't retard investment and will keep the Internet open," he said in a telephone interview.

Obama's net neutrality statement comes at a time when Internet services are undergoing immense changes.

Two pending mergers, one between Comcast and Time Warner, and the other between AT&T and DirecTV, could be affected by any FCC action, said Gartner analyst Bill Menezes in an email.

Further, he questioned, "Would net neutrality hinder a carrier's ability to prioritize its voice over LTE traffic over, say, Neflix? That's unclear right now."


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