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Millions sign FCC petition for ‘real’ reform in lead up to FCC net neutrality vote

With the FCC’s net neutrality vote set for Tuesday morning, Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA, joined by other Democratic House members, have provided commissioners with a laundry list of what they say should be in that Internet regulation order.

Republicans, on the other hand, want no action and are threatening to block any measure from the FCC. Consumers — 2 million of them — signed a petition last week asking the FCC for “real” net neutrality, not the mild version being pushed.

The Democratic list includes four items:
· nondiscrimination, by which they mean a ban on paid prioritization;
· application to both wired and wireless broadband;
· “narrow” exceptions for managed services; and
· a broad definition of Internet access services.

The draft order — as initially circulated through the FCC — does not ban paid prioritization, allows for specialized services, and only applies nonblocking (rather than nondiscrimination) and transparency principles to wireless.

Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, a key vote if the measure is to pass, has said there needs to be some changes to the language. He is concerned about the limitations on application to wireless and the opportunity for paid prioritization. To counter this, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, ranking member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, filed an amendment to an appropriations bill last week aimed at preventing the FCC from adopting any net neutrality regulation.

Hutchison’s amendment, co-signed by John Ensign, R-NV, and six other Republican lawmakers, would “prohibit the FCC from using any appropriated funds to adopt, implement or otherwise litigate any network neutrality based rules, protocols or standards.” The amendment is to a bill for military and veteran construction projects.

The Republicans, who are about to take control of the House of Representatives, have promised to repeal regulations such as open Internet rules that they say would harm the communications industry’s growth and ability to create jobs.

Last week, in a two-day marathon, the Coalition, backed by the consumer activist group, Free Press, delivered 2 million signatures on a petition for “real” reform to the FCC.

The coalition plans to drop off 50,000 more signatures every hour until the hearing on Tuesday. The group is calling for genuine net neutrality reform, not the compromised version being pushed by the FCC chairman.

Phone and cable nets have agreed with the compromise draft as issued, but adding any more conditions on wireless broadband would probably result in a lawsuit by the groups.