The big fight in the net neutrality battle is whether or not the FCC will agree to reclassify broadband under Title II, effectively arguing that it's a "common carrier" subject to certain specific rules. While earlier this year many insiders insisted this was politically impossible, over the last few months, it's become increasingly feasible
from a political standpoint. That doesn't mean it will happen. In fact, it's probably still a longshot, in part because I can't remember the last time an FCC chairperson didn't seek "the easy way out" rather than making a tough decision and standing up for what's right. However, the latest to jump on the "reclassify" bandwagon is the NY Times editorial board, making a clear case for reclassification
As a candidate in 2007, Mr. Obama rightly opposed letting telecommunications companies charge “different rates to different websites.” But Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the F.C.C. who was appointed by Mr. Obama, has proposed troubling rules that would allow cable and phone firms to enter into specials with companies like Facebook and Google as long as the contracts are “commercially reasonable.” These rules would effectively allow telecoms to divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes.
The commission has a better option. It can reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service, which would allow regulators to prohibit phone and cable companies like Verizon and Comcast from engaging in unjust or unreasonable discrimination against content. The F.C.C. wrongly classified broadband as an information service during the administration of George W. Bush, a decision that has limited the F.C.C.’s ability to protect consumers and smaller Internet firms.
Mr. Obama is sending Mr. Wheeler and his fellow commissioners a message. They should pay attention.
Of course, one editorial board opinion might not seem like that big of a deal, but (whether for good reasons or bad), the NYT's editorial board still holds a fair amount of sway within DC circles. In other words, this is at least another partial step forward in driving home the idea that reclassifying broadband is both the right thing to do and completely politically feasible.