With the passage of Monday's deadline for public input on the issue of Net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission had fielded more than 3 million comments and was still processing more. On Tuesday morning, the agency was also accepting questions via e-mail ahead of its first roundtable discussion on the issue.
The FCC is considering the possibility of allowing Internet service providers to offer "fast-lane" access to customers who are willing and able to pay a premium for such service. Opponents of such an option are urging the agency to reclassify Internet access as a utility-like service that is equally available to all.
In the days and weeks leading up to Monday's public comment deadline, supporters of Net neutrality organized an online "Internet Slowdown" protest, rallies in several cities, and an e-mail/phone campaign that generated widespread public support. That campaign has helped Net neutrality break the FCC's previous record for number of public comments submitted, which was set after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
Among the last-minute strategies aimed at showing public support for Net neutrality was a video billboard display outside the FCC's Washington, D.C., headquarters. Rolled out on Monday, the 11-foot-wide screen continued to play a stream of videos related to the issue on Tuesday as the FCC held roundtable discussions inside.
We reached out to Ted Worcester, head of product with the domain registrar Namecheap, to learn more about the video display that was organized by his company and the advocacy group Fight for the Future.
"We're out here till 7 pm tonight," Worcester said, adding that reaction to the billboard display has been "very interesting." "A number of people from the FCC have been taking pictures with their camera phones. It's been mostly positive (although) there have been a few folks who don't have any interest in talking with us or are annoyed."
Worcester said he is hopeful that the scale of public support shown for Net neutrality will have an impact on the FCC's ultimate decision.
"I think it's a testament to the power of the Internet," he said. "I think they're paying attention to the public. I'm staying optimistic."
FCC Roundtables on Tuesday, Friday
Tuesday's FCC's roundtables on the open Internet included a discussion on policy approaches and a look at mobile broadband. A second day of roundtables, scheduled for Friday, will focus on enforcement and the technological aspects of an open Internet.
Among the organizations that have come out in support of Net neutrality are Netflix, Dropbox, Mozilla, Kickstarter, Reddit, Twitter, Etsy, Upworthy, Wikia, Foursquare, Boing Boing and Tumblr. Other backers include the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace USA and the Sierra Club.
So who supports a fast lane for the Internet? Advocates of that approach include cable companies like Time Warner and Comcast, which earlier this year got Netflix to agree to pay a premium to ensure network speeds fast enough for reliable video streaming. Netflix reached a similar agreement with Verizon in April.
Read more on: Net Neutrality
, Internet Slowdown
, Time Warner
, Level 3
, Tom Wheeler
, Tech News