Skip to main content

CBO Scores Cost of Net Neutrality Bill as Negligible

The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the Save the Internet Act's restoration of the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization would not overly burden ISPs by the measure of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

The act is being debated in the House Tuesday.

CBO 'scored" the bill, which means estimating the costs of implementation, and found that the re-imposition of the rules would be under the $164 million Unfunded Mandates Reform Act threshold in 2019 for lost ISP revenues.

Related: OMB Advises President to Veto Net Neturality Bill

It said that was the conclusion in consultation with ISPs and based on the current use of paid prioritization.

It did not mention the general conduct standard, which is the ISPs chief beef with the reimposition of the rules, that and the Title II authority they argue leaves plenty of room for ex ante regulation, including rate regulation.

CBO estimates that, overall, since the FCC is funded by user fees, the cost of implementing the act would be negligible, increasing oversight and enforcement by the FCC and possible decreasing enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission.

CBO provided a succinct summary of just what the bill does:

"H.R. 1644 would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to return to the regulatory framework for Internet service providers (ISPs) that was in effect as of Jan. 19, 2017. The bill would effectively shift the oversight of ISPs from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the FCC by re-designating mobile and fixed-broadband Internet access services as telecommunications services subject to common-carrier laws under title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Thus, the FCC could take enforcement action regarding any unjust, unreasonable, or discriminatory ISP practices.

"H.R. 1644 would repeal the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (FCC 17-166) adopted by the FCC on Dec. 14, 2017, and prohibit its re-issuance in substantially the same form. The bill would restore the Open Internet Order (FCC 15-24) adopted by the FCC on Feb. 26, 2015, and any subsequent regulations in effect on Jan. 19, 2017."