Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reinstate the agency’s Title II classification of broadband service – reopening the door for many important consumer protections that put people first, including strong net neutrality rules. Public Knowledge commends the FCC for moving ahead to restore net neutrality as well as create the proper authority allowing for commonsense consumer protections for broadband networks.
The FCC previously classified all broadband under its authority when it passed net neutrality rules in 2015 as part of the agency’s Open Internet Order, which barred broadband providers from throttling connection speeds, blocking websites, and accepting payment for prioritizing traffic. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC, but the agency, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, reversed the order in an unpopular 2017 repeal by abdicating authority over broadband completely – an unprecedented and unconscionable move that leaves consumers vulnerable to deteriorating broadband lines that have not been maintained or upgraded; some network traffic being blocked or throttled; and rising broadband prices.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, President and CEO at Public Knowledge:
“Today’s vote is an important start to restoring internet freedom and openness. Over the next few months, the FCC and the public at large will have an opportunity to look carefully at the benefits of having broadband included in the communications networks that fall under FCC authority. This commonsense classification is a no-brainer to the millions of Americans who want the FCC to work to ensure that all of us are connected to quality, affordable, open, and secure broadband networks.
“Broadband is too important in the daily lives of every household, business, and community to leave oversight to the providers themselves, especially when they have virtual monopolies in most local communities. We all rely on broadband every day to connect with our jobs, our schools, our doctors, our essential government services, our families, and to start and build successful businesses. Only in Washington, where industry lobbyists have great influence, is the idea that broadband is an essential utility controversial. We have seen many reports of broadband providers throttling or prioritizing traffic since the FCC removed authority in 2017, including providers preferencing their own business over competitors in other services that ride over the network. It is time we have a regulator on the beat again. No broadband provider should control what legal websites and services you get to use when you pay for broadband service. We are grateful for the leadership of Chair Rosenworcel and her colleagues Commissioners Starks and Gomez for moving this proceeding forward.
“Now is the time for the public to take action. We look forward to filing detailed comments in the record on behalf of the public interest in the coming months. Many commenters have focused only on net neutrality protections, however, there are many important protections that Title II authority brings on behalf of the public, from network reliability, outage, and public safety standards, to looking at the important values of universal service, privacy, and competition and fair pricing. We are already creating resources for those who are unfamiliar with the many benefits of placing broadband under FCC authority. We encourage all members of the public to make their voice heard at the FCC and in Congress where legislators are watching closely. Your senators and representatives need to know that you support FCC authority over broadband to protect open, secure, and affordable broadband access.”
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