U.S. House Subcommittee Postpones Hearing on Net Neutrality

Politics Reuters

A key House panel has delayed a hearing on the Federal Communications Commission's efforts to write new Internet traffic rules aimed at assuring "net neutrality."

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The U.S. House of Representatives Communications and Technology subcommittee had been expected on Dec. 10 to quiz all five FCC commissioners about so-called net neutrality rules that would regulate the how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage web traffic that travels through their networks.

The plans to postpone the hearing were disclosed on Tuesday on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Twitter account, which added that the matter "will be top priority in the new Congress."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had hoped to set the new rules before the end of the year but President Barack Obama stunned the telecom community last month by urging the agency to reclassify ISPs to treat them more like public utilities.

Republicans, who will take control of the Senate and extend their majority in the House after November's midterm elections, have harshly criticized suggestions to tighten government regulation of the Web in general, and Obama's proposal in particular.

A new draft of the FCC's net neutrality rules is likely to be issued in the first months of 2015, observers say.

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An aide to the House committee on Tuesday said the hearing was delayed because of scheduling-related issues but added that the later date would allow for a hearing closer to the FCC's expected decision next year.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Christian Plumb)