Paid Prioritization Will Get House Vetting

WASHINGTON — The chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee has called a hearing on paid prioritization, which internet service providers are hoping remains an option in the new regulatory-lite net neutrality regime. But that does not appear to be a sign of Republicans weakening on their support for allowing such potential business plans.

At the State of the Net conference here, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced the hearing, but also signaled he still believes paid prioritization should not be barred, as it was in the original Open Internet order the FCC has just overturned.

He said there was already paid prioritization via CDNs (content delivery networks) and the prioritization of voice over data, saying “911 calls should be prioritized over watching some crazy cat video on YouTube.” Walden said he wasn’t sure the public or his colleagues, or even he, understood fully how the internet needed to be managed.

Walden said he thought there could be bipartisan legislation to prevent throttling and blocking, but given Democrats’ view of anything short of Title II-based network neutrality rules — a nonstarter for Republicans — and their opposition to paid prioritization, that sounded like wishful thinking.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.