Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to roll back the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which created strong net neutrality rules that force broadband providers to treat all internet content and services equally. The FCC’s new proposal, if adopted later this year, would reverse the agency’s Title II classification of broadband service.
The rules currently prohibit internet service providers from blocking websites, throttling connection speeds and engaging in backroom deals to create “fast lanes” for businesses that can afford it — and “slow lanes” for everyone else. Millions of Americans expressed support for these rules by submitting comments with the FCC leading up to the 2015 Open Internet Order.
Public Knowledge opposes FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s move to gut these rules, leaving consumers, small businesses, artists, students, hospital patients, low-income families, startups and entrepreneurs unprotected and at the mercy of broadband providers following a slew of mergers and media consolidation.
The following can be attributed to Ryan Clough, General Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“This proposal willfully ignores the realities of the market for broadband service, which is dominated by a handful of giant companies. Few Americans have real competitive choices. For example, according to the latest FCC data, only 24 percent of census blocks have more than one provider of high-speed residential service. As a result, consumers pay far more than they should for internet access, and are widely dissatisfied with their service.
“Contrary to Chairman Pai’s vague promises, this proposal will not magically produce a competitive broadband marketplace. It does nothing to address the economic and structural barriers to greater competition and deployment. Instead, it would give broadband providers far more unconstrained power to manipulate internet traffic and customer behavior for profit. This proposal paves the way to an internet dominated by vertical integration and opaque dealmaking between giant firms.
“Just a few weeks ago, the full D.C. Circuit upheld the 2015 Open Internet Order, including the classification of broadband as a telecommunications service. Now this proposal seeks a sudden reversal, which the FCC will struggle to justify. If adopted, years of litigation are all but certain.”
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