The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put back the deadline for comments on its net neutrality rules following a volume of interest that is approaching record-breaking proportions.
It’s a regulatory issue from the telecoms industry – impacting both mobile and fixed services– that has crossed over to capture the imagination of the general public.
Views are strongly held on both sides, with passionate views coming to the fore.
So far, the regulator has logged more than one million comments, making it second on the list of issues to capture the popular imagination.
The FCC’s initial deadline for comments was 15 July, which it moved back to 18 July.
The regulator set a deadline of 10 September for replies to those comments but the volume of replies actually overwhelmed its website, which crashed. So the commission has extended the final deadline to 15 September.
“To ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings, the bureau today is extending the reply comment deadline by three business days,” it said.
The record holder similarly grabbed the US public’s attention for somewhat different reasons – the FCC received 1.4 million complaints following Janet Jackson’s so-called ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the 2004 SuperBowl.
Yet the level of interest in net neutrality has been extraordinary, among both consumers as well as tech and telecom industries.
One submission from the New York Times’ editorial board noted: “It wasn’t long ago that net neutrality was an obscure issue for the courts. Now it’s increasingly become a presidential matter.”
Many comments are from individual consumers. For instance, Dwayne Richardson wrote: “The beauty of the Internet lies in its level playing field, something that the loss of net neutrality would threaten. Cable companies have too much power as it is today. To offer two lanes of speeds would be the death of innovation. Net neutrality… forever!”
Heavyweight responses have included the Internet Association, which has argued the FCC must treat mobile and fixed networks in the same way when it comes to net neutrality.