FCC Internet Proposal Will Affect School Fiber Construction

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Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler has proposed what he touts as clear and enforceable rules to help protect the open internet as a place where innovation and free expression remain intact. In his words, these are “the strongest open internet protections ever proposed.”

According to Bridget McCrea of eSchool News, the proposal would “replace, strengthen, and supplement FCC rules struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals” which were rendered void over a year ago. The proposal will make sure that consumers can access content and applications online without interference from their provider.

“Evan Marwell, CEO of San Francisco-based EducationSuperHighway, says Chairman Wheeler’s proposals to protect the open internet include one key provision that will be very helpful to any school district or library that is working to bring fiber to their buildings. That is, by “ensuring fair access to poles and conduits under section 224,”

The new rules intend to make it simpler and more cost effective for school districts to obtain the legal right for fiber construction. The current system causes districts to have a lack of access to poles and conduits and can make it impractical for schools to obtain sufficient bandwidth.

In his own op-ed, Chairman Wheeler wrote that the “internet must be fast, fair and open.” He also stated that in his submitted proposal, the FCC will ban prioritization of both wired and mobile networks.

“The rules would ensure Internet service providers (ISPs) are prohibited from blocking any lawful Internet content or creating so-called Internet fast-lanes that allow certain companies and websites to pay for faster delivery of their content.” –Tom Huddleston of fortune.com

Nicole Arce of Tech Times writes that the new proposal “strongly follows” President Obama’s recommendations last year to seek Title II reclassification for ISPs.

“Under the latest proposal, ISPs would be reclassified as telecommunications utilities but will not be subject to rate regulation, tariffs, or unbundling of services.”

Wheeler argues that the reclassification of ISPs won’t slow down innovation, as proven by mobile companies continually investing in innovation. The new proposal assures that consumers can do what they want on the internet, but it also assures the rights of “innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission.”

In a dissent in a 2005 Supreme Court case, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that  the FCC never had the right to reclassify Internet service as informational in the first place, calling it “perfectly clear that someone who sells cable-modem service is ‘offering’ telecommunications.”

According to Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, with the proposal, the FCC is essentially securing their jurisdiction over internet service providers.

The proposal will be presented to be voted for on February 26, and is likely to be passed by the majority-Democratic five member FCC.