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FCC votes to restore Obama-era network neutrality rules

The board of the Federal Communications Commission. (Still frame via web video)
The board of the Federal Communications Commission. (Still frame via web video)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday voted to restore Obama-era network neutrality rules that reclassify Internet service providers like Comcast and Charter under Title II of the Communications Act.

The vote was along party lines, with three commissioners voting in favor of the restoration of network neutrality rules and two commissioners dissenting.

Supporters of the measure, including some within the FCC, said a restoration of network neutrality rules would ensure Internet traffic is treated equitably and indiscriminately. Those proponents include Consumer Reports, which responded positively to the FCC’s vote on Thursday.

“Access to a fast, reliable, and affordable internet connection is more essential to Americans than ever. Broadband is a telecommunications service and should be regulated as such,” Justin Brookman, the Director for Technology Policy at Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “The Title II authority will ensure that broadband providers are properly overseen by the FCC like all telecommunications services should be. Whether it is throttling content, junk or hidden fees, arbitrary pricing, deceptive advertising or unreliable service, broadband providers have proven over the years that without proper oversight, they will not hesitate to use their power to increase profits at the expense of consumers.”

Opponents claim a return to network neutrality rules will stifle digital innovation and cause consumer confusion. Those opponents include ACA Connects, a trade association that represents independent broadband providers across the country.

“With its internet takeover, the FCC is creating mountains of uncertainty for smaller broadband providers, who will be forced to shift much-needed investment dollars away from their networks to pay for expensive regulatory compliance costs,” Grant Spellmeyer, the CEO of ACA Connects, said in a statement. “This will set back our Members’ ongoing work to close the connectivity gap in areas of the country that lack reliable services.”

Spellmeyer continued: “ACA Connects will continue to support efforts — including litigation — to overturn these heavy-handed, unnecessary utility-style regulations, which only serve to discourage development of robust and reliable broadband service for all Americans.”

The original network neutrality framework was rescinded by the Trump administration several years ago. President Biden has voiced his support of restoring those rules.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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