Net Neutrality Comments: One Million-Plus and Counting

The FCC has gotten more than a million pieces of advice on how to recraft open Internet rules, more than on any other single rulemaking proposal.

As of press time Friday, the commission said it had received 1,062,000 comments combining both the docket for the rule proposal and the separate e-mail box the FCC set up to collect even more input, which are also going into the docket.

“When the Commission launched its effort to restore Open Internet protections that were struck down in January, I said that where we end up depends on what we learn during this process," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. "We asked the public a fundamental question: 'What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?' We are grateful so many Americans have answered our call."

Wheeler said the FCC's work is just beginning given that the FCC has to review all those comments. "Today’s deadline is a checkpoint, not the finish line for public comment. We want to continue to hear from you.“

Friday (July 16) was the deadline for initial comments, but there are still reply comments with a Sept. 10 deadline, and even that is not a drop-dead deadline.

So, how will the FCC handle reviewing more than a million comments, with more coming in?

“The FCC has a great deal of experience handling complicated issues that draw extensive public comment," said a spokesman in a statement.... We are currently examining a number of approaches. The FCC will deploy staff from across many bureaus and offices who have the training, organizational expertise, and track record of success sorting through large volumes of information to ensure that we account for all views in the record.”

The FCC drew more input following the Janet Jackson Super Bowl reveal (1.4 million), which are also expressions of interest, but that was not a docketed proceeding.

It probably also has more total comments on media ownership deregulation, but that is divided among at least five dockets, according to an FCC source.

The second-largest docket in terms of comments is the Universal Service Fund docket at 236,315, but that has been open since 1996, while the network neutrality rule revamp docket has only been open since February of this year.

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.