updated 12:00 pm EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Staff deluged by comments for and against the controversial plan
Under an onslaught of remarks, both slamming and supporting Federal Communication Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler's Net Neutrality proposal, the agency has extended the second public comment phase five days, now ending September 15. The alteration was made "to ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings," according to the agency.
Wheeler's proposal for net neutrality prevents companies from downgrading Internet traffic in their own favor, but also opens up the opportunity for Internet service providers to charge extra for faster content delivery, codifying such deals as those penned by Netflix with Comcast and Verizon.
President Obama dislikes the paid "fast lanes" proposed by the FCC chair, as they fundamentally undermine the entire concept of "neutrality," which dictates that no website or service receive special treatment over others. He noted that "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." Other than this lone remark, the president has been mostly silent during this net neutrality debate and during previous court rulings overturning it, despite making it an underpinning of his initial presidential campaign.
Wheeler claims that the FCC will not tolerate actions by ISPs that "degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few," despite the inherent contradiction in having "fast lanes" in the first place. The chairman has threatened to regulate the Internet under common carrier "Title II" laws, should the ISPs fail to abide by regulations set forth by the FCC, or if they abuse the "fast lane" concept in any way.