FCC Removes Title II Regulation for Broadband

As expected, the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to nix the 2015 Open Internet order. The vote takes away Title II classification for broadband.

The vote was briefly delayed due to a security concern. FCC chairman Ajit Pai  was handed a note as he was speaking. He stopped and told attendees, “On the advice of security, we need to take a brief recess.” Security told attendees to not take anything out of the meeting room except their bodies. The room was cleared a few minutes later and the meeting continued.

Republican commissioners stressed that the vote returns the regulatory landscape to where it was prior to 2015, with Pai taking a moment to address the issue of edge providers, such as Google and Facebook. “Edge providers regularly block content they don’t like. When you go online, do you decide what news search results and products you see? Perhaps not,” he said.

Democrat commish Jessica Rosenworcel issued a strong dissent that included blasting the agency for not stopping the vote amid claims of fake comments in the proceeding. She called in unacceptable that the FCC has refused to cooperate with a state attorney general investigation into the matter. “Identity theft is a crime under state and federal law and while it is taking place this agency has turned a blind eye to its victims and callously told our fellow law enforcement officials it will not help,” she said. “This is not acceptable. It is a stain on the FCC and this proceeding.”

As soon as the vote wrapped, the statements came pouring in from ISPs.  A sample of some of the remarks from providers and their trade groups are below.

Cox Communications: “Today’s vote by the FCC to remove the Title II section of the Net Neutrality rules does not impact our commitment to Net Neutrality. We do not block, throttle or otherwise interfere with consumers’ desire to go where they want on the Internet.  Cox has always been committed to providing an open Internet experience for our customers, and reversing the classification of Internet services does not change our commitment.  We applaud FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for his leadership that has overturned the previous Commission’s decision to enact Title II, the 1930s-era utility telephone regulations.  Reestablishing ‘light-touch’ regulation returns a level of certainty for consumer protections and future investment and innovation that spur the growth of the Internet.”

American Cable Association: “Smaller ISPs have always stood by their customers and provided them with unfettered access to lawful Internet content. Yet, for the past two years they have been subject to unwarranted and burdensome FCC utility-style regulations, which have made them reluctant to invest in their broadband networks and to develop and offer innovative services. Under the regulatory regime adopted by the previous FCC, no one came out a winner – not smaller ISPs, not their customers, not upstream edge providers. The order adopted by the FCC today ends this ‘unvirtuous’ cycle. Customers of smaller ISPs will not only continue to have an open Internet, but also they will have greatly enhanced access as ISPs upgrade their networks and roll out new services. ACA applauds the FCC for restoring a regulatory regime that truly serves the public interest.”

AT&T: “For more than a decade, under both Republican and Democratic Administrations, AT&T has consistently made clear that we provide broadband service in an open and transparent way.  We do not block websites, nor censor online content, nor throttle or degrade traffic based on the content, nor unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic. These principles, which were laid out in the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order and fully supported by AT&T, are clearly articulated on our website and are fully enforceable against us.  In short, the internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.  Despite the existence and the enforceability of all of these commitments, we have, since 2010, also repeatedly called for a non-Title II legislative solution that would make these consumer protections permanent. We continue to support a legislative solution and will work with any interested members of Congress to achieve that solution.”

NCTA: “Today’s FCC action rightly restores the light-touch approach to government regulation of the internet that has fostered the development of a vibrant, open and innovative platform. For decades, America’s internet service providers have delivered an open internet – allowing consumers to enjoy the lawful internet content and applications of their choosing. Nothing in this decision alters that commitment – ISPs have stated repeatedly that they do not and will not block, throttle or unfairly discriminate in how internet traffic is delivered. We cannot reach for the future with regulation from the distant past. Title II and its accompanying regulatory uncertainty deters the innovation and investment needed to build the next generation of broadband and bring its benefits to all Americans. We fully support Chairman Pai and the Commission’s action today. However, we continue to believe that legislation which protects the open internet, while preserving incentives for an ever-improving network is essential. We urge Congress to craft legislation that settles this decade-long debate and permanently enshrines open internet protections into law while ushering in a new era of connectivity for American consumers.”

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