The suspense is killing the Internet.
The FCC’s decisions yesterday to preempt state bans on municipal broadband projects and regulate Internet service and infrastructure using common carrier rules are still under wraps. The commission wasted no time in posting laudatory summaries, which largely reiterated past public statements. The (prepared) comments the commissioners made during the voting session were also quickly up on the FCC’s website.
But the actual text of the decisions they approved yesterday haven’t been made public.
As I noted a couple of days ago, there was the usual last minute scramble to finalise the language, so FCC staff probably didn’t have much time to prepare the approved version for a public launch. But it shouldn’t take much time.
The press releases and commissioner statements don’t shed much light on the critical details. Democrat-appointed chairman Tom Wheeler’s panglossian summary and republican commissioner Ajit Pai’s flaming dissent regarding the decision to overturn (severe) state restrictions on municipal broadband in Tennessee and North Carolina might indicate that the actual text is long on social justice rhetoric and short on constitutional reasoning. Or it might just be a reflection of the personalities behind the comments.
The same bipolar representations are clouding the decision to bring the Internet under common carrier rules. It’s either the dawn of a new age of freedom and prosperity or a water slide into the apocalypse.
The California Public Utilities Commission – the nation’s second most powerful and important telecoms regulator – has figured out how to release pending decisions in advance, provide opportunities for fast public feedback and post ongoing updates as changes in the text are made ahead of any votes. There’s no excuse – motive, certainly, but no excuse – for the FCC to make momentous decisions behind closed doors.