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FCC Hears Cheers for Net Reg Rollback

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's order unclassifying ISPs as common carriers and sweeping away bright line rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization drew applause from various quarters.

"We strongly support the FCC plan to free the internet from 1930’s era over-regulation and usher in a new era of broadband investment, innovation, and job creation," saiud Broadband for America. "Chairman Pai’s leadership will ensure continued American leadership in the global, digital economy and a richer, faster, more dynamic internet for all.  And we commend his team for an unprecedented open and transparent process -- including the early publication of this draft order."

The National Grange called the order "commonsense internet policy that will help provide critical broadband access to millions of more Americans and especially those in our rural communities," adding: "When innovation and competition are prioritized, consumers from coast to coast reap the benefits. We look forward to continuing to work with the FCC to prioritize broadband buildout that reaches every American regardless of income, location, and status.”

Related: Pai Circulates Order Unwinding Title II

Charter praised the decision and renewed its pledge to be a good online actor.

“Charter has had a longstanding commitment to an open internet, which is why we don’t block, throttle or interfere with the lawful activities of our customers," the company said in a statement. "We don’t impose data or usage caps, engage in usage-based billing or charge modem or early termination fees because we want our customers to use and value our broadband service by accessing the content of their choice. We support the FCC returning to the light-touch regulatory framework in place for more than two decades that allowed the online ecosystem to take root and keep up with the speed of innovation. Title II, written for the monopoly phone service in the 1930’s, is simply not designed to provide consumers, and especially those living in rural and hard to serve areas, with a 21st-century broadband.”

"Net neutrality isn’t dying, it’s just going to be protected differently — but there will be much more consistency than most people realize,” said Berin Szóka, President of TechFreedom. “Yes, the FCC will turn over responsibility for policing net neutrality to the FTC, DOJ, and state attorneys general on a case by case basis, and there will no longer be formal rules. But the FCC’s transparency rule will actually maintain a smooth transition. The FTC and state AGs will have an easy job holding broadband companies to their disclosures about network management. Proving deception doesn’t require any elaborate showing of injury, just that customers didn’t get what they were promised.”

Related: FCC Moving to Repeal Bright-Line Net-Neutrality Rules

“I am pleased to see progress on this important matter," said Acting Federal Trade Commission chairman Maureen Ohlhausen. "The FTC has long applied its competition and consumer protection expertise to network neutrality issues. The FTC also participated in the FCC’s proceeding, and I am gratified that my comments and those of FTC staff appear to have been taken into consideration in the development of this order. I look forward to reading the full draft order. The FTC stands ready to protect broadband subscribers from anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive acts and practices just as we protect consumers in the rest of the Internet ecosystem.”

The draft will be circulated Nov. 22, according to FCC officials. A vote is planned for Dec. 14.

“We’re very encouraged by Chairman Pai’s announcement today that the FCC will move forward next month to restore the successful light-touch regulatory framework for internet services," said Verizon SVP Kathy Grillo. “At Verizon, we continue to strongly support net neutrality and the open internet.  Our company operates in virtually every segment of the internet.  We continue to believe that users should be able to access the internet when, where, and how they choose, and our customers will continue to do so. We are also confident that the FCC will reinstate a framework that protects consumers’ access to the open internet, without forcing them to bear the heavy costs from unnecessary regulation that chases away investment and chills innovation.  We look forward to reviewing the draft order after it is released.”

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.