Tom Wheeler, the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defended new internet regulations at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. During his keynote speech, Tom Wheeler argued that “there has to be a referee” for the Internet.
This follows a vote by the FCC in late February which approved net neutrality rules in order to prevent operators from slowing down or blocking traffic and creating different “internet fast lanes” only available to some higher paying content providers or publishers. The decision has been met with mixed feedback and many operators are critical towards the new rules.
The new rules were approved following a 3-2 vote. Ajit Pai, one of the commissioners skeptical towards net neutrality, argued that the new rules are unpredictable and could make operators less willing to innovate and provide better services.
Wheeler however, argued during his keynote speech, that the rules are in no way intended to deter innovation. He emphasized that the FCC does not aim to impose broad, industry wide regulation, but rather intends to look at things on a case-by-case basis. He added that the regulations will not hurt operators’ revenues.
Some operators have argued that the new rules are “politicizing” the internet. President Barack Obama is supportive of the new rules. And although Republicans have also said they are in favor of it, they would like to have a different approach.
While Tom Wheeler did not address the political issues of the new rules, he emphasized that they “are no more regulating the Internet than the First Amendment regulates free speech in our country.”