The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on whether to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service today.
While most internet service providers (ISPs) are allowed to operate as public utilities, some of them have been forced to pay hefty tolls to reach customers.
The FCC’s new classification would allow them to charge customers for access to their networks.
While many internet service companies are allowed under Title II of the Communications Act to be public utilities like phone companies, they are not allowed to charge consumers to access their networks like phone service providers.
The telecom industry lobbied heavily to keep broadband under Title I status, and even President Donald Trump promised in November to classify broadband as “a common carrier service.”
However, the FCC’s proposed reclassification would allow ISPs to charge for access.
While ISPs have long charged for access, this would be the first time they would be able to charge directly for access from customers.
Under the FCC proposal, broadband providers would only be able charge for an “interactive package” of services like calling and texting.
For example, if Comcast wanted to charge $10 per month for its $70 plan, it could charge $9 per month instead.
Comcast could charge a user $15 for access for each call and text.
That’s $10 for $70, but only $1 per call and $0.5 per text.
This would be a big difference for consumers, who already pay a hefty toll to get broadband.
But, for the FCC, it’s just another way to make sure that the telecom industry pays for its services.
The FCC will vote on the proposal tomorrow, with the vote expected to be delayed until late October or early November.