FCC chairman to propose ban on paid prioritization, throttling of broadband: Wired

FCC's net neutrality push

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will seek to ban cable companies from throttling access to certain kinds of broadband data and seeking payments to prioritize some content over others, he said Wednesday.

In an op-ed published on Wired magazine's website, Wheeler said he would seek to use the FCC's so-called Title II authority to ensure net neutrality by classifying broadband providers the same way as phone companies.

That would have the effect of banning "fast lanes," essentially guaranteed full-speed transmission of content over broadband in exchange for some kind of payment. Netflix has struck a number of deals along those lines.

At the same time, Wheeler said his proposal would avoid imposing rate regulations or other financial requirements. Shares in cable companies moved broadly higher on the news.

"My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone's permission," Wheeler said.

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The Title II classification is one that has been pushed by the White House as a replacement for previous FCC rules that were thrown out in court.

Yet a number of telecom companies are reportedly poised to sue the FCC again as soon as it attempts to impose the Title II rules, which may happen as soon as late February. AT&T posted a detailed argument on its public policy blog earlier this week laying out a case against reclassification.

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But on the other side of the debate, Internet policy group Public Knowledge applauded Wheeler's move.

"His approach uses a scalpel, not a cleaver, to avoid subjecting broadband providers to parts of Title II that may not be applicable to their services. We appreciate this thoughtful approach and look forward to seeing its details," the group's vice president of public affairs, Chris Lewis, said in a statement.

For the full op-ed click here.

(Disclosure: CNBC is a unit of NBC Universal, whose parent company is Comcast Corp)