US watchdog the FCC has decided to ponder a little more on the fate of net neutrality – and delayed a crucial vote on the issue until next year.
The regulator is in the middle of rewriting its rules to guarantee an "open internet" for all, after Verizon decided it didn't like the original rules and sued the agency. And won. FCC commissioners were due to vote on whether or not to accept the new rule in December.
"I can confirm that a vote on open internet rules will not happen at the December meeting, which is the FCC’s last meeting of the year," FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart told The Register in the past hour.
The FCC didn’t give a reason for the delay, but President Obama's announcement at the start of the week that he wants ISPs treated like common carriers – so-called Title II classification – has certainly set the cat among the pigeons.
Net neutrality is the biggest issue the regulator has had to make a decision on in recent history, with millions of public comments on the issue (largely pro-neutrality) and millions of dollars of lobbying money (largely from the anti-neutrality camp).
Delaying the scheduled December vote will give the FCC commissioners some more time to chew through both sides of the argument, and also to try and find some middle ground. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has tentatively floated a "hybrid" approach, which has pleased neither side.
The agency didn’t say exactly when it will vote on the net neutrality issue, but it's unlikely to want to wait too long. Internet service providers aren’t keen on the uncertainty, and neither are netizens. ®