FCC Repeals Net Neutrality

The FCC has just released the final Order in the Federal Register to eliminate Net Neutrality.  The Repeal will take place on April 23rd with further changes will happen after that date.  The Restoring Internet Freedom Order will require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to disclose information about their network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercal terms of service.  The reporting requirement is important to enforce the absence of bright-line rules, since the FTC and the Justice Department will have to rely on ISPs to be able to report that they are doing to decide whether it is unfair.   The rules will reclassify ISPs as Title 1 information services and remove the common carrier regulatory order which would give chief oversight of the ISP conduct to the Federal Trade Commission.  

The FCC will return to the light-touch regulatory design that was in place before net neutrality was enacted. The commission and order will restore the classification of broadband internet access service as a now lightly-regulated information service and will further reinstate the private mobile service classification of broadband internet service.  The Federal Register explains that the restoration of the light-touch regulatory scheme will foster the internet’s growth and promote broadband deployment in rural America and further infrastructure investment throughout the nation, brighten the future of innovation both within the networks and at their edge, and move closer to the goal of eliminating the digital divide.

The Federal Register also highlighted:

  • Transparency will protect the openness of the internet.
  • Eliminate the conduct rules imposed by the Title II order.
  • Classify broadband internet as an information service which will comport with applicable law governing agency decisions.
  • Return to Title 1 classification which will facilitate critical broadband investment and innovation by removing regulatory uncertainty.
  • “Mass Markets” that include internet access service purchased with the support of E-rate and rural healthcare programs as well as any broadband internet access service offered using networks supported by CAF.
  • Gives the delivery of fixed broadband over any medium, including various forms of wired broadband services.
  • ISP’s are best understood as offering a service that inextricably intertwines the information processing capabilities and rejects commentator’s assertions that the primary function of ISPs is to simply transfer packets and not process information.
  • Competition exists in various forms nearly everywhere and to that extent that effective competition is not universal, the costs of Title II regulation outweighs the benefits of our more light touch approach.
  • In the unlikely event that ISPs engage in conduct that harms internet openness we find that utility-style regulation is unnecessary to address such content.
  • Freeing internet traffic exchange arrangements from burdensome government regulation and allowing free market forces to discipline emerging market.
  • Require all ISPs to disclose Blocking, Throttling, Affiliated Prioritization, Congestion Management, Application-Specific Behavior, Device Attachment Rules, Security, Service Description, and Impact of Non-Broadband Internet Access Service Data Services.
  • History demonstrates that public attention, not Commission regulations, has been most effective in deterring ISP threats to openness and bringing about resolution of these rare incidents.
  • The order concludes that maintaining the Title II Classification would have net negative benefits, thus maintaining Title II would decrease overall economic welfare and our cost-benefit analysis supports the decision to reclassify broadband internet access services as a Title I service and that ISP’s will be held accountable for any violations.