Examples of Future Innovations that Could Undermine Open Internet Rules

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Title II of the Communication Act allows for supervision of "broadband Internet access" services. However, some data services are transferred over private Internet connections rather than the public Internet and therefore, do not have to adhere to Title II Open Internet rules. Other services may use other means of transferring data altogether (like shipping or mailing data for instance). A few examples of these services which could possibly undermine Open Internet rules include<ref name="wheeler" />:

  • VoIP phone service from a cable system
  • Heart-monitoring service that doesn't use the public Internet
  • DVD mailing service

Chairman Tom Wheeler of the FCC has put forth a proposal in an effort to ensure Open Internet rules will not be undermined by such non-Internet data services. The proposal suggests that the public and the FCC will be able to keep a close eye on any tactics that could potentially undercut Open Internet rules because transparency disclosures on regulated companies will "continue to cover any offering of such non-Internet data services"<ref name="wheeler" />.

There is also concern that Wheeler’s latest proposal does not impose the same retail regulation of price controls that apply to telecommunication services. Rather the proposal says that the FCC will forbear from applying these less applicable provisions to broadband providers when applying Title II classification. Some fear that the ISPs can use this loop hole to impose and charge for fast lanes through a connections that circumvent the public Internet, which they would qualify as being a “specialized service.”<ref name="ibd" /> In order to avoid such loopholes, the FCC would have to narrowly define what qualifies as a “specialized service.”


<references> <ref name="wheeler">Chairman Wheeler Proposal Fact Sheet [1]</ref> <ref name="ibd">Krause, Reinhardt. FCC Sets Title II Net Neutrality, Adds Wireless Rules. Investor's Business Daily[2]</ref> </references>