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FCC headman Wheeler calls for an 'open internet' – but what the %$#@! does he mean?

The Register - One man's 'open' is another man's goldmine.

Just how "open" is US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler's "open internet"? To paraphrase ex-President Bill Clinton's famous weasel words, "It depends upon what the mean of 'open' is."

On Thursday morning, Wheeler put to a commission vote a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) "to preserve and protect the open internet," as he put it – a new set of regulations that are now open for comment – and ferocious lobbying – that will culminate in a final ruling this summer.

 

The proposal was approved by the commission on a party-line vote, with Wheeler and his two Democratic allies, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, voting yes, and the two Republican members, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, voting no.

Despite saying that "nothing in this proposal ... authorizes paid prioritization," the extent of the ability for ISPs to do just that is still unclear, and will not be clarified until the end of the comment period beginning today. Wheeler specifically asked for comments on whether third-party companies, apps, and content providers should be allowed to pay for increased-bandwidth "fast lanes" – a pay-to-play ploy that the NPRM in its pre-comment form allows.