Public Knowledge Urges FCC To Reinstate Broadband Authority, Bring Back Net Neutrality Protections

Today, Public Knowledge filed comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reinstate the agency’s classification of broadband service as “telecommunications”– reopening the door for many important consumer protections that put people first, including strong net neutrality rules.

Today, Public Knowledge filed comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reinstate the agency’s classification of broadband service as “telecommunications”– reopening the door for many important consumer protections that put people first, including strong net neutrality rules. Public Knowledge commends the FCC for acting to restore net neutrality as well as creating the proper authority allowing for commonsense consumer protections for broadband users.

The FCC previously classified broadband as “telecommunications” in 2015 as part of the agency’s Open Internet Order, which enacted net neutrality rules barring 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, changed course in its unpopular 2017 repeal, which abdicated FCC authority over broadband completely – an unprecedented move that left consumers vulnerable to deteriorating broadband lines that have not been maintained or upgraded, network traffic being blocked or throttled, and rising prices due to lessened broadband and online competition.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge:

“The FCC’s proposal to reclassify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service is a necessary step to ensure that the internet remains an open platform for innovation and free expression, and reverses the FCC’s biggest mistake under former Chairman Ajit Pai. 

“Broadband, like electricity and water, is indispensable in the modern world. It is not a luxury but a necessity for education, communication, and participation in the economy. The FCC’s action today will restore its ability to oversee this essential service. This will benefit its efforts to ensure reliable service, protect public safety and national security, promote competition, end digital discrimination, enforce user privacy, and protect internet users by putting in place net neutrality rules. 

“Net neutrality rules prevent broadband providers from blocking, throttling, or discriminating against lawful content. Thankfully, when the FCC under Ajit Pai eliminated federal protections for internet users, states like California stepped up with their own rules. But consumer protections this important should apply nationwide, while leaving states the ability to enact their own additional protections.

“Without net neutrality rules, internet service providers could manipulate internet traffic to favor certain sites or services, even cutting special deals with the Big Tech companies most able to pay. This could lead to a two-tier internet, where big companies enjoy fast lanes while smaller ones are left in the slow lane, stifling innovation and competition. Net neutrality ensures a level playing field, where all internet traffic is treated equally, regardless of its source or content.

“The reclassification of broadband as what it plainly is – ‘telecommunications’ – may seem like a technical matter, but it’s necessary for the FCC to do its job. Public Knowledge commends Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and everyone at the FCC who has worked so hard on this essential work. We look forward to the FCC moving forward swiftly to an Order implementing this proposal.”

Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at shiva@publicknowledge.org or 405-249-9435.