FCC commissioner warns against adoption of net neutrality rules

FCC commissioner warns against adoption of net neutrality rules

10 MAR 2015

Net neutrality rules voted for by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are “monumentally flawed” according to FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who warned fellow regulators around the world against adopting a similar approach.

Speaking last week at a Mobile World Congress (MWC) session focused on ‘Defining the Future of the Internet’, O’Rielly said the new rules passed by the FCC last month – which require network operators to treat all types of traffic equally – still have to be debated in the courts, reminding attendees that net neutrality is an ongoing debate.

The new rules will pose a barrier to broadband deployment, according to O’Rielly (who voted against the FCC rules, but was ultimately outvoted 3-2 by fellow commissioners). “I believe it is a monumentally flawed decision [for the FCC to pass the proposals],” he said, arguing the new rules will stifle market innovation.

“It would be a disservice not to talk about my views and how they differ from the chairman’s views,” he said, referencing last week’s Mobile World Live keynote from FCC chairman Tom Wheeler who used his time in the spotlight at MWC to answer critics that labelled the proposals as “depression era regulation.”

O’Rielly described this debate as “a fight over the heart and soul of the internet”, and further criticised chairman Wheeler’s comparison between net neutrality and the first amendment of the US constitution as “cavalier”, as well as “insulting and inappropriate”.

He added: “Our fight will drag on a numbers of years, my estimate is that it will be three-to-five years before we see some kind of resolution over what the rules may or may not look like, and whether or not they will stand up to court scrutiny.”

Another negative result of the ongoing net neutrality debate is that network providers are “lacking certainty to invest” in network infrastructure, according to O’Rielly. He also described the prospect of fellow regulators adopting and expanding the approach as “deeply troubling”.

By Ronan Shields – Contributing Editor