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FCC Chairman Initiates Inquiry into Netflix-Comcast Deals

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Uncertainty characterizes the future of the relationship between digital content providers and Internet service providers. John Oliver’s recent parody of the FCC’s fast lanes, this month’s cease and desist letter from Verizon to Netflix, and Netflix’s fiery response are a few manifestations of the current debacle facing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

In a statement dated June 13th, Mr. Wheeler shared some of his thoughts regarding Net Neutrality, the recent disputes between Netflix and ISPs, and the rise of Internet traffic. The statement revealed that the FCC is looking into the agreements between content providers and ISPs in order to better address the situation. “As the consumer’s representative we need to know what is going on. I have therefore directed the Commission staff to obtain the information we need to understand precisely what is happening in order to understand whether consumers are being harmed. Recently, at my direction, Commission staff has begun requesting information from ISPs and Netflix.”

Official statements and letters constitute most of the information available to consumers about these companies, and finger pointing constitutes much of those statements and letters. The Chairman believes that understanding the relationships between content providers and ISPs will inform the Commission and consumers about who should be held responsible for improving Internet speeds; more information will also hopefully bring to light the instances in which consumers are disadvantaged.

Although Mr. Wheeler has recently encountered a great amount of resistance for his proposed “fast lanes”, his opponents will have trouble criticizing this call for more information. Hopefully the investigation will result in more information and better services for Americans online.

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More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com

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