The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) initial comment period regarding its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on net neutrality regulations ends in around seven hours. Instead of seeing a final surge in submissions, however, it appears that the influx in missives from the public to the agency is slowing.
According to the FCC’s most recent figures, the current tally of submitted comments rests at 1,062,000, up only modestly from yesterday’s reported tally of 1,030,000 comments. In short, after a week that saw hundreds of thousands of new comments, it seems that the final day of public comment for this period will be somewhat muted.
Traffic to the FCC’s website was so high earlier this week that the agency had uptime issues, leading it to extend the initial comment period so that more could have their say. However, that surge appears to have mostly dissipated. Given that there was an initial rush to meet the deadline — that server-melting traffic — and a large number of comments that poured in following the extension of the time limit, the slowdown at the end is not surprising.
Public interest has been high on the issue for some time. The FCC’s NPRM contains rules that would, if enacted, allow for some forms of “paid prioritization,” what is generally referred to as Internet “fast lanes.” Content from companies that could pay might be able — provided the FCC’s rules pass as they are — to pay for faster access to consumers, something that strict net neutrality advocates find to be casus belli.
We will shortly enter into a second comment period designed to enable responses to previously submitted notes. Comments submitted in that period, however, don’t have to be responses per se, but could in fact merely be standalone responses.
So, we’re approaching something of an artificial deadline. That in mind this September, when we hit the hard stop on formal public comment, could see a surge of its own.