FCC Seeks Stories About Broadband Access Discrimination

FCC shield on phone
(Image credit: Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The FCC is asking consumers for anecdotal evidence of their “challenges” with trying to get access to broadband as the regulator looks to lower barriers to access by historically “unserved and underserved" communities.

In December 2022, the Federal Communications Commission launched a rulemaking proposal — as part of its implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act — that aims to prevent digital discrimination. That proposal would sanction both unintentional and intentional discrimination in the provision of internet access service.

That is all in furtherance of the Biden administration's pledge of 100% broadband access by decade's end.

The FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would add digital discrimination to the agency’s informal consumer complaint process, come up with model anti-discrimination policies and best practices for states and localities, and next steps and potential rules for combating discrimination in broadband access.

To help in crafting final rules regarding the prevention of discrimination, the FCC has created a new online Broadband Access Experience Form and is asking consumers to “share their unique experiences and challenges in obtaining broadband internet access,” including naming the provider responsible for that “unique” experience.

The FCC suggests those experiences might include “challenges … due to a provider's practices and polices related to certain terms and conditions of service, such as those concerning speeds, data caps, throttling, late fees, equipment rentals and installation, contract renewal or termination, customer credit or account history, promotional rates, price or how technical support is provided.”

But the FCC also said the form does not represent a formal complaint and will not be “served” on that provider as such. ■

John Eggerton

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.