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FCC Pushes Public Meeting Back One Week

The Federal Communications Commission, the agency that regulates interstate and international communications including wireless and wireline Internet, has pushed its next public meeting from Sept. 16 to Sept. 23, citing “scheduling issues.”

The September agenda is not available yet, but it’s possible that the FCC might rule at the meeting to reclassify Internet communications under Title II “common carrier” regulations, which would give the FCC more authority to regulate free access and could mean stricter enforcement of net neutrality than would be allowed under alternative proposals such as the one Google and Verizon unveiled this week.

The FCC has been facilitating talks between major players such as Google, Comcast, Verizon and other Internet service, content and wireless providers, hoping to craft legislation to clarify the FCC’s role in regulating Internet access.

The talks broke down after Google and Verizon issued a proposal that received mixedreviews but many say is a step back for net neutrality. The companies’ proposed legislative framework gives wireless Internet a pass, requiring only that wireless Internet providers be “transparent” about what traffic gets priority, and allows a loophole for “new services.”

In 2002, the FCC classified cable, DSL, and other high-speed Internet services as “information services,” subject to fewer regulations under Title I. In 2005, the agency issued a policy statement that said providers cannot restrict access to content, software or devices and users must be free to choose between providers. But a recent federal court ruling challenged the FCC’s authority in enforcing those provisions, and the legality of restricted Internet access is now in question.

That question could be settled as soon as the agency’s September meeting. But the issue is highly controversial and progress has been slow. In addition, members of Congress have been pressing the FCC to give them more time to consider and give their input on the issue.

[via Broadcasting & Cable]

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