Today, the FCC’s Special Counsel for External Affairs Gigi Sohn tweeted that reports of a rift between the President and the agency’s views on net neutrality were overblown. Sohn made it clear, however, that the FCC is weighing options that are different from what the President proposed
All options being on the table, it seems that the FCC’s decision will likely come in 2015. FCC Chairman Wheeler noted on Monday that his agency may need more time to come to its decision. Previously, a mid-December timeframe was the most often discussed date range for a vote.
Sohn’s comments follow a late, and somewhat detail-light proposal from President Obama regarding net neutrality. The President proposed strict rules, banning paid prioritization, harmonizing regulation for wireline and wireless connections, and bringing peering arrangements into the ring. The FCC fired back, welcoming the President’s comments somewhat brusquely. A Washington Post story followed, indicating that Wheeler was looking to find some way to “split the baby,” a quote that was widely interpreted to imply that the Chairman was moving away from what the President had proposed.
Attendees of that meeting, speaking to the Huffington Post indicated that Chairman Wheeler’s tone wasn’t “defiant towards the President.” You’ll have to parse the quotes yourself.
Sohn is trying to mend the rift, regardless if it is real, or imagined. I’m not sure it will work, or if words can heal what could be an intractable ideological difference. For now, we have no choice but to be patient. I’m digging into what next steps look like, but everyone I talk to mostly shrugs. We’ll see.