Verizon’s lawsuit against earlier net neutrality rules is about to backfire in a spectacular fashion. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Communications Commission will propose new net neutrality rules that will reclassify ISPs under Title II of the Telecommunications Act and thus open them up to being regulated more like utilities.
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“According to multiple people familiar with the agency’s plan, Mr. Wheeler intends to change the way both mobile and fixed broadband firms are regulated,” the Journal writes. “Rather than being lightly regulated information services, they would become like telecommunications companies, which would subject them to greater regulation on everything from pricing to how they deploy their networks.”
This would give the FCC the power to stop ISPs from blocking traffic from services that rival their own and from setting up paid prioritization schemes where they would charge money to Internet companies to ensure that their traffic got delivered faster than other companies who don’t pay up.
This sort of regulation is vigorously opposed by most ISPs, of course — AT&T has already penned a long missive arguing why Title II reclassification would be a supposedly ruinous move by the FCC.
That said, you can’t help but wonder if any of this would have happened had Verizon decided against suing the FCC over its original net neutrality regulations that were widely seen as a compromise that ISPs could have lived with. In fact, some reports have even claimed that both AT&T and Comcast warned Verizon not to go too far in suing the FCC out of fear that this could happen.
What makes this particularly sting for Verizon is that the FCC’s original net neutrality rules gave wireless providers a big exemption that the new proposals will reportedly lack. In other words, Verizon’s lawsuit may have brought more unwelcome regulation to both its wireline and wireless services.
Verizon took a risk that the FCC would simply sit on its hands after getting beaten once in court but now that gamble seems to have failed in a huge way.