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IF Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is stepping away from his poorly received proposal for fast lanes on the Internet, it is not apparent.

Wheeler wanted to let Internet service providers (ISPs) offer big content providers access to paid priority on the Internet. Their stuff would move faster for a premium.

In the face of public outrage, and opposition from his two Democratic colleagues on the commission, Wheeler is saying the companies who pay for faster service would have to behave themselves. Wheeler is no more specific than that.

And, he argues, the presence of a fast lane does not mean others have slow service. Huh?

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So now he is asking whether all priority service should be banned, and he is sorta, kinda raising the idea of treating ISPs as regulated utilities. Yes, that is a good idea, but the courts have made it clear it must be done right. A recent court ruling even pointed the commission toward the regulatory path to get it done. Be more explicit, Chairman Wheeler.

The FCC is scheduled to meet on Thursday. If Wheeler is backing away from his proposal for paid priority on the Internet, he needs to be more direct.

Making a virtue of creating fast lanes and promising all content providers would have access to them is no reversal of a bad idea.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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