Federal Communication Commission chairman Tom Wheeler announced this morning that the agency will take a second crack at net neutrality rules. In his statement, Mr. Wheeler said that:
“In its Verizon v. FCC decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
invited the Commission to act to preserve a free and open Internet. I intend to accept that invitation by
proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination
among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic,
and enhancing competition. Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression
while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this
Mr. Wheeler went on further to clarify that the FCC will not appeal last month’s federal court of appeals order that vacated the anti-blocking and ant-discrimination portions of the FCC’s rules. The rules left in place transparency rules and cemented the FCC’s authority to regulate the internet pursuant to section 706 of the Communications Act of 1934. That section grants the FCC authority to pursue policy that promotes the deployment of advanced services including broadband and can be read broadly to include over-the-top or edge services such as those provide by Netflix or Hulu.
The FCC is also reserving its authority to reclassify broadband service as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Act, according to the article.
Also of interest was Mr. Wheeler’s statement on competition in the area of broadband access, seeming to indicate promoting municipal broadband as a policy to address internet service provider choice:
“The Commission will look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition. One obvious candidate for close examination was raised in Judge Silberman’s separate opinion, namely legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities.”
Yesterday, President Obama reiterated his support for an “open internet” but reminded the public that he could not order the FCC to apply Title II treatment to the internet.
AT&T issued a statement on the FCC’s latest effort to codify open internet rules, indicating a willing to work with the FCC while reminding the agency that it has sufficient authority to maintain openness without firing another regulatory shot:
“AT&T has built its broadband business, both wired and wireless, on the principal of Internet openness. That is what our customers rightly expect, and it is what our company will continue to deliver. That is also why we endorsed the FCC’s original rule on net neutrality, and is why we pledged to adhere to openness principles even after the recent court decision.
“As the FCC embarks on a new proceeding to clarify its authority under section 706, we will, of course, participate constructively and in the same spirit with which we worked with the Commission on its original rule. We believe the FCC possesses sufficient authority under section 706 to preserve Internet freedom and openness, and that it can do so without over-regulation. Indeed, and as the court recognized, section 706 was clearly intended by Congress as a tool to enhance broadband investment and deployment. Thus, it is vital that, as the FCC defines its authority, it do so in a way that does not inhibit the very investment section 706 was intended to assist.”–Jim Ciccone, AT&T Senior Executive Vice-President for Legislative and External Affairs
Verizon also issued a brief statement reminding the public and regulators of its commitment to an open internet:
“Verizon remains committed to an open Internet that provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want. We have always focused on providing our customers with the services and experience they want, and this focus has not changed.”–Libby Jacobson, Verizon, Director of Digital Policy Communications