May 15 - The Federal Communication Commission formally proposed ''net neutrality'' rules that could allow pay-for-priority access on the web. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Protestors repeatedly interrupted Thursday's Federal Communications Commission hearing on Open Internet- shouting their objections to the proposal that may allow broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast- to charge more for faster speed on the Internet - to companies like Netflix and Amazon. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was sympathetic to the concerns: SOUNDBITE: TOM WHEELER, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There is one Internet- not a fast Internet, not a slow Internet- one Internet. The attention that is being paid to this topic throughout the country here in this room is proof positive as to why the open and free exchange of information must be protected." But he also presented the idea of allowing some "commercially reasonable" deals. Content companies could pay broadband providers to prioritize traffic on their networks- and that has come under fire from consumer groups and technology companies- who worry about fast lanes for companies who pay up- and slower traffic for the smaller guys. Wheeler's proposal passed by a slim 3-2 margin. SOUNDBITE: TOM WHEELER, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The ayes have it. The order is adopted." Next up- a feedback period that will go until the fall. The economic stakes are high explains Forrester Principal Analyst Ted Schadler: SOUNDBITE: TED SCHADLER, PRINCIPAL ANALYST, FORRESTER RESEARCH (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You really do need to work this out in a way that is both motivating companies to invest in better broadband like Verizon and Comcast and AT&T but also motivating entrepreneurs and companies like Netflix as I say to create better services and allow them to charge for those services in a way that consumers get to decide." The issue also hits home- literally- for millions of Americans including FCC commissioner's Mignon Clyburn's mother- who Clyburn said asked her. SOUNDBITE: MIGNON CLYBURN, COMMISSIONER, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What is this net neutrality issue? Can providers do what they want to do, and did it already pass? So like any good daughter with an independent streak, I will directly answer my mother's questions in my own time and in my own way. But her inquiry truly echoes the calls, letters, e-mails I have received from thousands of consumers, investors, start-ups, healthcare providers, educators and others across this nation who are equally concerned and confused." We may get some more clarity on the issue when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before Congress next week.