On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will decide whether to overturn the Obama-era net neutrality regulations that currently govern the internet. It is highly anticipated they will decide to return to the pre-2015 regulations.
Net neutrality implies an open internet environment that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or web sites.
The 2015 net neutrality laws reclassified high-speed broadband as a public utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act rather than the 1996 Telecom Act. These regulations applied to both mobile and fixed broadband networks. The reclassification changed how government treats broadband service and gave the FCC increased controls over internet service providers.
The office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently issued this Myth vs. Fact statement on returning to the pre-2015 regulations. One issue the public is concerned with is if internet providers would block or “throttle back” certain content to the public. Another is if content developers would pay internet providers for accelerated data transfer. The bigger issue is whether internet providers can operate their businesses as businesses rather than as a public utility. Data show that private investment in internet services has slowed under the post-2015 regulations.
The Indiana Chamber supports free-market competition in the delivery of advanced communications services. The competition in a free-market environment among industry service providers is consistent with providing choice to consumers and an adequate service of last resort in extended service areas.
The Chamber opposes any attempt to impose new regulations on broadband and other next-generation telecommunications services by the FCC, especially through the unilateral reclassification of such services under Title II of the Federal Communications Act. The Indiana Chamber supports the U.S. Congress examining and deciding issues such as net neutrality. We believe that advanced communications and digital infrastructure are critical to long-term economic development. Since 2006, private companies have invested more than $1.5 billion in new broadband capacity in the state, expanding service to more than 100 Hoosier communities and creating 2,100 new jobs within the industry.
If the FCC rules to return to the pre-2015 regulations, it is expected that Congress will entertain legislation to promote some of the concepts of net neutrality and limit the ability to stifle content.