Net Neutrality Foes And Advocates Rush To Control The Narrative As The FCC’s Comment Period Nears Its End

As the second comment period for the current net neutrality notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) approaches its end, the issue is heating back up.

When the first comment period wrapped up, the FCC received so much input from Americans that its site crashed. The comment period was extended, as was the second, to account for the days is lost to the first session.

Today, specifically, is Internet Slowdown Day, with hosts of websites showing a pop-up and faux loading spinner, indicating what might happen to the Internet if the FCC’s proposed rules are enacted. The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler has been under intense vituperation following his NPRM’s inclusion of what is called ‘paid prioritization,’ a concept that is called by its foes ‘Internet fast lanes.’

Opponents of the idea are pressing web users, via the Slowdown Day effort, to make more noise as the second period for response and general comment concludes on the 15th.

Powerful voices are weighing in as well. Recently, former Speaker of the House and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argued that broadband should be reclassified as a utility under Title II Communications Act. The idea is viscerally opposed by ISPs.

Also out recently is a letter signed by 33 tech companies, including Cisco, Nokia, and Broadcom opposing Title II reclassification. There is some space on net neutrality to be in favor of regulation, but opposed to regulation under Title II. For the most part, with some notable exceptions, it seems that there is increasing consensus among net neutrality advocates in favor of use of Title II as the best legal standing for net neutrality.

The Internet Association released new comments to the FCC today, arguing in favor of net neutrality, and partially extolling the potential for the use of Title II, but not precisely endorsing it as the proper approach.

Congressional noise, pressure from the technology industry, and counter-arguments from other corporate interests makes for a potent moment. Less than a week remains before the official comment box closes. Expect more voices before that date.