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Congressman Protests FCC Attempt to ‘Heap 80 Years of Regulatory Baggage’ on Broadband

By Josh Long
May 29, 2014 - News
Continued from page 1

“Congressman Latta’s legislation wisely recognizes the potential threat excess regulation poses to the future of the Internet and broadband investment," ITTA President Jenny Morelli said in a statement. “The FCC should look no further than the success the Internet has been able to achieve absent Title II regulation and exercise restraint when contemplating future regulation."

Earlier this month, the FCC voted 3-2 to propose Net neutrality rules, its third attempt to regulate the Internet after previous orders were rejected by appellate judges in Washington, D.C. The two Republicans on the commission, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, dissented. 

The FCC also has proposed regulating the Internet under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) isn’t happy with that idea either, earlier this month declaring his intent to strip the agency of the authority to take actions under the provision of the 1996 Act.

“Congress, not an unelected commission, should take the lead on modernizing our telecommunications laws," Cruz said in a May 14 statement.

The Net neutrality proposal spearheaded by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is similar to the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order; a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. overturned that order in January. 

Wheeler has proposed requiring broadband providers to disclose their network-management practices to consumers, and fixed high-speed carriers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon would be forbidden from blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. The FCC further recommends barring fixed broadband providers from engaging in “commercially unreasonable practices," a term that is likely to be vigorously debated in the coming months.

The FCC has opened a 60-day period for initial comments on its proposal, including asking whether the agency should ban agreements in which broadband providers such as AT&T and Verizon could charge content providers like Netflix fees for faster access to end users. In its Open Internet Order four years ago, the FCC found broadband providers have incentives to block open access to the Internet, including potentially degrading service that was not subject to such priority agreements.

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