Speculators love rumors. Rumors thrive with opacity. And rumors do not move at equal speeds for everyone. In this regard, rumors have plenty in common with the FCC debate over how to handle net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the idea that companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and others in the business of providing connections should treat all Internet traffic equally. Supporters don’t want to allow those Internet service providers the ability to create cyber “express lanes” allowing some websites to move first and faster than others. Advocates of a light regulatory touch say mandating a neutral stance on Internet traffic would add to congestion, reduce technological innovation and ultimately reduce consumers’ choices.
After millions of public comments, the FCC is scheduled to decide the issue in late February, but in the new week its chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to circulate a draft of his proposal. The blueprint is designed to be private.
However, there already is gossip surrounding the proposal. Reuters reports that the draft would prohibit service providers from charging content companies like Netflix and Amazon special priority prices to favor their traffic over others. Such a decision could save those companies potentially millions of dollars they would otherwise be compelled to pay to stay a step ahead of the competition. It could also cost broadband providers millions of dollars of fees they could have otherwise charged for faster service.
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With millions of dollars at stake on both sides of the net neutrality decision, the FCC owes it to investors and Internet customers to act with transparency and clarity.
Financial journalist Tom Hudson hosts The Sunshine Economy on WLRN-FM in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @HudsonsView.