Mayors Strongly Back Network Neutrality

The National Conference of Mayors has approved a resolution supporting FCC network neutrality rules and calling for "comprehensive nondiscrimination"--no paid priority--to be a "key principle" in any FCC rulemaking creating new policies.

The resolution--among 261 pages worth of them--was adopted at their annual meeting in Dallas, which ended Monday (June 23).

They mayors also called on the White House and Congress to back the FCC, and the latter, if necessary, to "enshrine access to a free and open Internet and give the FCC a clear mandate."

As for paid prioritization, which has become a hot-button issue for the FCC's proposed new rules and their "commercially reasonable" standard for allowing some types of discrimination, the mayors were clear.

Among the many "whereas" in the resolution, are the points that "paid prioritization under a commercially reasonable standard allows paid prioritization that has heretofore been understood to be unjust and unreasonable; and unreasonable paid prioritization is antithetical to a neutral Internet, and nondiscrimination is an inherent and indivisible characteristic of net neutrality."

The mayors also added their support to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to preempt state laws that impede municipal broadband, saying they were a "significant limitation" to competitive broadband. Wheeler has said much the same thing.

The FCC voted along party lines in May to launch net neutrality rules that would pass muster with the federal appeals court in D.C. that remanded its no-blocking and no-unreasonable discrimination rules for insufficient legal underpinnings.

Wheeler's use of a "commercially reasonable" standard is a way to try and make the rules legally sustainable, and not to open the door to Internet fast and slow lanes, he has said, which Wheeler signaled would not be commercially reasonable. Some critics argue that while that may the his conclusion, it may not be the case with the next chair or commission.

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.