Just a day after U.S. President Barack Obama publicly came out in support of net neutrality, asking the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify Internet service as a utility, its chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated he’ll likely move in a different direction, according to a Washington Post report. During a meeting with executives of major Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, and Etsy, Wheeler said he preferred a more “nuanced” solution than that laid out by the President, adding that his approach would not only include some of Obama’s proposals but would also address the concerns of ISPs such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, and more.
Hours after President Obama called for the Federal Communications Commission to pass tougher regulations on high-speed Internet providers, the agency’s Democratic chairman told a group of business executives that he was moving in a different direction. Huddled in an FCC conference room Monday with officials from major Web companies, including Google, Yahoo and Etsy, agency Chairman Tom Wheeler said he has preferred a more nuanced solution. That approach would deliver some of what Obama wants but also would address the concerns of the companies that provide Internet access to millions of Americans, such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and AT&T. “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business,” a visibly frustrated Wheeler said at the meeting, according to four people who attended. “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.” The dissonance between Obama and Wheeler has the makings of a major policy fight affecting multibillion-dollar industries. The president wants clear rules to prevent Internet service providers from auctioning the fastest speeds to the highest bidders, a scenario that could favor rich Web firms over start-ups.