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FCC's bold move on net neutrality, a good move for CIOs?

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released details to regulate the Internet as a public utility. Also in Searchlight: Anthem hacked; Google and Uber go head-to-head; Target hires a new CIO.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday disclosed a proposal concerning net neutrality.

In his op-ed  published via Wired, Wheeler wrote that he would be "submitting the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC." Wheeler plans to use the authority given to the FCC to regulate the Internet as a public utility. The proposal, if passed, would ban prioritization of bandwidth --  that is when Internet providers  give a prioritized customer faster speeds and a non-prioritized customer slower speeds. The proposal would also ban the blocking of lawful content and services by cable and telecommunication companies. The rules would also apply to mobile broadband for the first time ever. In his op-ed,Wheeler noted that the proposal will "assure the rights of Internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone's permission."

Wheeler's proposal to regulate the Internet as a public utility is viewed as a bold stance by experts who have followed the debate over net neutrality, but it does not come as a surprise. President Obama released a YouTube video in November 2014 stating he believes that net neutrality should be guaranteed. Wheeler and the FCC plan to use the authority given to them under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to enforce open Internet protections.

"Basically by invoking that language and that law he is claiming that his organization agency, the FCC, has the authority to regulate the broadband industry and it’s a very powerful statement," said Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst serving application development and delivery professionals and who has written about net neutrality at Forrester.

Redefining broadband

Just a week ago the FCC redefined broadband, with the new benchmark being 25 megabits-per-second for downloads and 3 mbps for uploads, Schadler said. The redefined broadband metrics,  paired with Wheeler's release backing net neutrality, could ultimately be a win for CIOs, he said.

"[CIOs] want to know that they can deliver high quality video, great Internet services, to those consumers over broadband," Schadler said. The redefinition of broadband would beneifit CIOs in that it would be easier for them to tell which of the business' customers have fast, robust broadband services and which don't. This gives CIOs greater insight into which consumers have higher quality broadband and therefore can receive high quality services.

These new developments with the FCC could also benefit CIOs in that the branches of their business and their employees who work from home will now have access to higher quality broadband, Schadler said.

The potential downside, Schadler said, is that network providers may lose incentive to install better equipment and more lines to deliver a higher quality service if they aren't making money.

However, nothing is final until after the vote on Feb. 26 and, even if it passes, it could lead to lawsuits from the cable and telecommunications companies.

CIO news roundup for week of Feb. 2

  • Anthem, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S., said on Wednesday that hackers breached a database that contained as many as 80 million records of current and former customers as well as employees. Personal information of tens of millions of its customers and employees, including their CEO, were accessed by these hackers.
  • Google and Uber are going head to head over taxis and self-driving cars. Google, one of Uber's biggest investors, has announced plans to develop a ride-hailing service. Meanwhile, Uber has announced that it is teaming up with Carnegie Mellon University to develop its own autonomous vehicle technology. Could a merger be in the two companies' futures?
  •  President Obama released new rules concerning data collection on Tuesday. The new rules are detailed in a policy document and call on intelligence analysts to immediately delete private communications data that is collected on American citizens during surveillance sweeps. These new rules come nearly two years after Edward Snowden, former NSA analyst revealed the US government was conducting mass surveillance and gathering and storing the information without citizens' knowledge.
  • After a tumultuous few months -- including a cyber hack -- there seems to be some good news for Sony. The company's net profit nearly doubled analysts' expectations and the company's loss projections were reduced for the year. Sony also spent $15 million in the quarter ending Dec. 31 on investigation and remediation costs related to the cyber-attack, according to an earnings statement.
  • After barely a year at Target, the company's (now former) CIO, Bob DeRodes, is leaving. Taking his place is Mike McNamara, former CIO at UK-based supermarket chain Tesco where he introduced "scan-as-you-shop" capabilities.

Next Steps

Take a look at SearchTelecom's coverage of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's announcement of the details of the proposal.

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Do you think regulating the Internet as a public utility is a good move?
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In the interest of protecting net neutrality and open access, I feel it is incredibly important to have federal oversight in the regulation of the Internet as a public utility. Without any regulation over the now necessary utility that is the Internet, there will be a pecking order where small business and website owners will suffer at the hands of large entities that will gain fast access at the expense of the little guy.
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A solution in search of a problem, which is probably why the 300+ pages of detail were kept secret from the public until after the vote. We've had 40+ years of very impressive development going back to ARPAnet days, all driven by technical people and organizations. Now we need an army of non-technical bureaucrats using an 80-year-old framework to fix what ain't broken?
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The internet being treated as a public utility is long overdue, and should finally help curb local and national monopolies. Thank you, Tom Wheeler.
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