May 18, 2017

FCC Begins Rulemaking Process to Protect an Open Internet

The FCC today voted to begin a formal and transparent rulemaking process to eliminate Title II regulations and seek the best path forward to maintaining sensible Open Internet protections. Notwithstanding the multiple mischaracterizations of the FCC intentions, this is not a proceeding designed to eliminate enforceable Open Internet protections. The purpose is to find a path to protect the openness of the Internet without reliance on the dangerous and inappropriate Title II as the source of authority for such rules.

We applaud Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly for remaining focused on creating a light touch regulatory environment that is pro-consumer, pro-investment, and pro-innovation, especially with the present partisan political rhetoric and debate.

To be clear, and as I have previously stated, Comcast supports strong, legally enforceable net neutrality protections that ensure a free and Open Internet for all of our customers. We do not and will not block, slow down, or discriminate against lawful content.

Especially in the current heated political climate, we must come together, from across the aisle, both public and private sector, to find common ground that protects consumers on the core elements of net neutrality without unnecessary and harmful regulatory overreach. The time for posturing is over. We look forward to engaging with the FCC on this important next step to establishing enforceable Open Internet protections for consumers.

Consumers not only deserve sustainable Open Internet protections, but they are also something that they want. According to a new study by Morning Consult and released by NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, voters overwhelming support the government using a "light touch" or no regulation of the Internet.

We will continue to hear from the public as formal comments are filed with the FCC. That, after all, is the purpose of an open and public proceeding at the Commission. Many, however, have already expressed, regardless of political persuasion, that the first priority must be to protect consumers, and that Congress should move toward bipartisan legislation putting in place strong net neutrality rules and ending the game of regulatory ping pong once and for all:

  • Bicameral statement from Senators John Thune and Roger Wicker; and Representatives Greg Walden and Marsha Blackburn: "It’s now time for Republicans and Democrats, internet service providers, edge providers, and the internet community as a whole to come together and work toward a legislative solution that benefits consumers and the future of the internet."

  • Senator Bill Nelson: "I certainly believe American consumers deserve better. They need to know that we have their back. And they deserve certainty and finality when it comes to their essential right to a truly free and open internet protected by clear, enforceable net neutrality rules. That lasting finality can only come from legislation, which is why I have been open to finding a true bipartisan solution on this issue. That solution cannot merely pay lip service to net neutrality, but must include real protections for consumers and empower the FCC with flexible, forward-looking authority over broadband providers."

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "I commend Chairman Pai for taking this preliminary step to address the issue, which will also open the door for bipartisan Congressional action to keep the Internet open for consumers — permanently."

  • Gigi Sohn, former counselor to previous FCC Chairman Wheeler, noted that Congress is the next step for the Open Internet debate: "But let's go 2 Congress together & ask 4 strong #Netneutrality & flexible @FCC authority, OK?"

  • Timothy H. Lee, Senior VP of Legal and Public Affairs, Center for Individual Freedom: "Simply put, the principle of a free and open internet is something on which all parties agree. What American consumers didn't need was a hyper-partisan FCC suddenly regulating the internet as a 'public utility' under the pretense of 'protecting consumers.' Accordingly, CFIF applauds Chairman Pai for moving to restore common sense to internet regulation and the FCC."

  • Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook, "Make the Net Neutral Again: "The Pai plan will take regulatory shape in stages over the next few months, and perhaps his actions will galvanize Congress to take the hint and codify his protections into law. Mr. Pai on Wednesday described the internet as "the greatest free-market success story in history," and with his help the web will continue to be a tremendous engine of innovation."

  • Mike Montgomery, Executive Director, CALinnovates: "Net Neutrality is a foundational principle in the digital age. But for too long its future has been uncertain due to changes in leadership and politics. That is why it’s important for Congress to do what only it can do through a bipartisan process: write into law the principles of Net Neutrality. Congressional action will provide innovators with a level playing field and industry with the certainty to make technology and investment decisions to continually upgrade our networks. If Net Neutrality is as important as we all say it is, it should be the law of the land, not a political hot potato resting on the third rail of American tech policy for another decade."

  • Nicol Turner-Lee, Fellow, Brookings: "Congress may be the only entity that can offer a more permanent solution to what is driving the debate – adherence to the principles of an open internet and the application of the appropriate legal authority. As the FCC works on its repeal, Congress should exercise leadership to identify a legislative solution that marries – rather than polarizes – these two perspectives to reach bipartisan agreement."

  • Chris Wood, Executive Director, LGBT Tech: "LGBT Tech has consistently called for Congress to step in and draft bipartisan legislation that actually protects consumers and creates stability in the marketplace rather than regulating our Internet with rules that can be changed and undone every time the administration changes."

  • Rosa Mendoza, Executive Director, Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership: "HTTP believes Title II is not the appropriate regulatory mechanism to keep the Internet free and open. Instead, the focus should be on regulatory solutions that ensure access, innovation, investment, and transparency and where services for consumers are not degraded or throttled and where they are protected."

  • David Balto, antitrust attorney and former policy director at the Federal Trade Commission and attorney in the Justice Department's antitrust division: "Conflict and partisanship makes good TV, but on this issue a simple bipartisan solution is available and at hand. Congress could easily pass a bipartisan law to make net neutrality permanent and put enforceable rules in place for good. Support for this approach is building on the left and right and FCC Chairman Pai has indicated it may provide the simplest path forward."

 

Letters to the FCC from ISPs:

  • 19 Municipal ISPs: "By returning to light-touch regulation of broadband service, the Commission will give Muni ISPs incentives to invest in enhancing our networks and our deployment of innovative services at affordable prices while still ensuring consumers have unfettered access to the Internet."

  • 22 Small Wireline ISPs: "Prior to the Commission’s Title II decision, our customers had unfettered access to the Internet because, for us, open Internet principles were consistent with our ethos and were simply good business. Most certainly, should the Commission revisit its classification decision and revise or even repeal its 2015 Open Internet rules, we would continue to provide an open Internet experience for our customers – and could do so without suffering the costs of utility style regulation. We thus support your effort to set in motion a process whereby the Commission would free smaller ISPs from utility regulation while ensuring consumers continue to have access to an open Internet."

Read more information on Comcast’s commitment to an Open Internet here. You can also review our previous policies and statements from Brian L. Roberts, Dave Watson, and myself.

Tags : Net Neutrality, Open Internet

 
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