FCC restores net neutrality order, but court challenges loom large

The FCC voted on Thursday, April 25th along party lines to pass its order on Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet, restoring net neutrality and reestablishing the Commission’s Title II authority over broadband services.  The restored “net neutrality” rules prevent broadband internet service providers/ISPs (e.g. Comcast and AT&T) from favoring some sites and apps over others.  The vote was taken at the FCC’s open meeting for the month of April.  Democrats on the FCC voted to restore net neutrality and Title II rules. The issue will face inevitable court challenges and is likely to be reversed if Donald Trump wins the November presidential election.

As a result of the vote, the FCC restores fundamental authority to provide effective oversight over broadband service providers, giving the Commission essential tools to:

Protect the Open Internet – Internet service providers will again be prohibited from blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid prioritization of lawful content, restoring the rules that were upheld by the D.C. Circuit in 2016.

Safeguard National Security – The Commission will have the ability to revoke the authorizations of foreign-owned entities who pose a threat to national security to operate broadband networks in the U.S. The Commission has previously exercised this authority under section 214 of the Communications Act to revoke the operating authorities of four Chinese state-owned carriers to provide voice services in the U.S. Any provider without section 214 authorization for voice services must now also cease any fixed or mobile broadband service operations in the United States.

Monitor Internet Service Outages – When workers cannot telework, students cannot study, or businesses cannot market their products because their internet service is out, the FCC can now play an active role.

Here are a few FCC commissioner comments:

“Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services, the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life, have some basic oversight. So let’s be clear about what we are doing today. This agency, the nation’s leading communications authority, believes every consumer deserves Internet access that is fast, open and fair. That is why we determine that the Federal Communications Commission should be able to assist consumers and take action when it comes to the most important communications of our time. And that’s broadband. This is common sense,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel presides at the FCC’s open meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024.(SOURCE: FCC LIVESTREAM)

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr offered a different opinion during a nearly 35-minute diatribe: 

“Today’s order is not about correcting a market failure. Broadband access is more vibrant and competitive than ever, no matter how you slice the reams of data,” said Carr. “Will ISPs invest as intensely when the rules of the road are opaque, when business choices can be second guessed without notice, when regulators reserve the right to dictate the rate of return or when upgrades and innovations require more and more paperwork and approvals? Uncertainty riddles every aspect of this order … I’m confident that we will right the ship, and I’m certain that the courts will overturn this unlawful power grab.”

The vote drew expected reactions from industry and consumer groups. Those in favor of the ruling celebrated, while still expressing dissatisfaction with a few “shortcomings” of the order.  Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Senior Counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society said:

“Today’s vote provides welcome, if long overdue, protections for all Americans. Despite a few shortcomings, this is the most important thing the FCC can do to promote free speech, competition, public safety, and national security.  The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society would have preferred that the Commission continued the debate on whether or not broadband providers should contribute to the Universal Service Fund and that it had taken a more proactive stance toward wireless companies’ efforts to create loopholes to avoid regulation of some 5G services. But those shortcomings do not change the fact that today is a great day for internet freedom.”

On the opposition front, industry trade groups called the rules “heavy-handed” and indicated their intent to file lawsuits.

“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,” said Grant Spellmeyer, president and CEO of ACA Connects, in an emailed statement.

“WISPA is disappointed by today’s action to impose utility regulation on the broadband industry,” said Louis Peraertz, VP of policy for the fixed wireless trade group WISPA–The Association for Broadband Without Boundaries. “Once the final Order is published, WISPA will carefully review it and determine what legal recourse we should take in order to ensure that our members can continue to provide their local communities with reliable high speed broadband service.”





Analysis: FCC attempt to restore Net Neutrality & U.S. standards for broadband reliability, security, and consumer protection

FCC Draft Net Neutrality Order reclassifies broadband access; leaves 5G network slicing unresolved

FCC Votes to Reverse Net Neutrality & No Longer Regulate Broadband Internet Services

Analysis: FCC attempt to restore Net Neutrality & U.S. standards for broadband reliability, security, and consumer protection

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced the tentative agenda for the April 2024 Open Meeting scheduled for 10:30 am EDT on Thursday, April 25, 2024. As part of the agenda, the Commission will consider a draft Declaratory Ruling, Order, Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration (Order) that would restore Net Neutrality [1.] and bring back a national standard for broadband reliability, security, and consumer protection.

Note 1.  Net neutrality is a concept that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the internet equally. This means that ISPs should not block, slow down, or charge more money for access to certain websites or services. Net neutrality is important because it helps to ensure that everyone has equal access to the internet.

In 2017, the FCC repealed the net neutrality rules that had been in place since 2015. This decision was controversial, and many people believe that it will harm consumers and businesses. There are currently efforts underway to restore net neutrality rules.

If the FCC order is approved, the Chairwoman’s proposal would ensure that broadband services are treated as an essential resource deserving of FCC oversight under Title II authority [2].

Note 2.  U.S. carriers providing “telecommunications services,” are regulated under Title II. of the 1934 U.S. Communications Act.


Rosenworcel confirmed the planned commission vote in an interview with Reuters.
“The pandemic made clear that broadband is an essential service, that every one of us – no matter who we are or where we live – needs it to have a fair shot at success in the digital age,” she said.  “An essential service requires oversight and in this case we are just putting back in place the rules that have already been court-approved that ensures that broadband access is fast, open and fair.”
Rosenworcel has said the reclassification would give the FCC important new national security tools. The agency said in its initial proposal that rules could give it “more robust authority to require more entities to remove and replace” equipment and services from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE.

What the Declaratory Ruling and Order Would Do:

 Classify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and classify mobile broadband Internet access service as a commercial mobile service.

 Find that reclassification would provide the Commission with additional authority to safeguard national security, advance public safety, protect consumers, and facilitate broadband deployment.

 Find that classification of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service represents the best reading of the text of the Act, and that such reclassification accords with Commission and court precedent and is fully justified under the Commission’s long standing authority to classify services subject to its jurisdiction.

 Establish broad, tailored forbearance—including no rate regulation, no tariffing, no unbundling of last-mile facilities, and no cost accounting rules—in the FCC’s application of Title II to broadband Internet access service providers (ISPs).

What the Report and Order Would Do:

 Reinstate straightforward, clear rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid or affiliated prioritization arrangements, and adopt certain enhancements to the transparency rule.

 Reinstate a general conduct standard that prohibits unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage to consumers or edge providers.

 Make clear that the Commission will employ a case-by-case review under sections 201 and 202 to ensure that Internet traffic exchange practices do not harm the open Internet.

 Establish a multi-faceted enforcement framework comprised of advisory opinions, enforcement advisories, Commission-initiated investigations, and informal and formal complaints.


Legal Opinions on FCC net neutrality draft order:

Legal experts and FCC watchers say the net neutrality draft order on the FCC’s April 25th  open meeting agenda will face legal arguments similar to what the 2015 net neutrality order did, with many of the same parties involved.

An appeal of the FCC order is likely and probably would land before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, legal experts and net neutrality watchers say. Such an appeal also would feature many of the same appellants and FCC supporters say.  That appeals court dealt with the 2015 order and its subsequent repeal, telecom and tech lawyer Marc Martin of Perkins Coie said. Most of the same parties that fought in 2015 “are going to want to fight it again.”Any appeal will largely resemble the appeal of 2015’s order, said Cato Institute research fellow Brent Skorup. Major questions, Chevron deference and the First Amendment will likely be the primary legal issues, he said.The First Amendment played a large role in litigation the last time, and the FCC in the order detailed why it thinks the rules satisfy First Amendment scrutiny, he noted. Several parties might dispute in an appeal some of the FCC grounds in the order, said Stephanie Joyce, Computer & Communications Industry Association chief of staff.In the draft order, the agency tries to preempt First Amendment arguments against it. The FCC draft says the proposed general conduct standard doesn’t burden any of the 1A rights of broadband internet access service (BIAS) providers, which “are conduits, not speakers.” “When broadband providers deliver content that has been requested by their customers, they are no different from telephone companies or package delivery services like FedEx, which have never been thought to be engaging in their own expressive activity when merely carrying the messages of others,” it said.Many court watchers expect the conservative supermajority to rewrite the rules on agency deference in the same way they have overturned established precedents in recent years. Recent Supreme Court decisions have embraced its own “major questions doctrine,” holding that when an administrative agency decides an issue of major economic or political significance, a broad delegation from Congress is no longer enough.

Starting with a briefing for reporters the day before the draft order was released, the FCC argued the proposed rules would survive legal challenge. Net neutrality rules are “wildly popular,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in California last week, adding the draft rules are “court approved.” Rosenworcel said, “I want to make sure that they are again the law of the land.”

Major Questions:

The proposed order is “legally vulnerable,” Free State Foundation President Randolph May told Commissioner Brendan Carraccording to a filing Friday in docket 23-320. May said it was “extraordinary … for an agency to propose burdensome restrictive major regulatory mandates without any meaningful evidence of any present harm to consumers or competition.”

Daniel Deacon, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Law School, pointed to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent as a D.C. circuit judge in the 2017 en banc affirmation of the 2015 net neutrality rules. Kavanaugh argued that imposing net neutrality rules via Title II represents a “major” policy that requires clear congressional authorization under the major questions doctrine, and that such authorization was lacking, Deacon said: SCOTUS “could reach that conclusion regardless of what they end up doing in Loper Bright and Relentless.”

The commission tries to head off major questions arguments in the draft order. “We do not think the major-questions doctrine properly comes into play in this context at all,” it said. “We are simply following the best reading of the Communications Act, as demonstrated by the statute’s plain text, structure, and historical context: there is no call for deference to an interpretation that is not the statute’s most natural reading.”

The rules won’t “have the extraordinary economic and political effect required to implicate the major-questions doctrine,” according to the draft order.

While the rules “will have substantial benefits for the American public … not every regulatory action that has substantial effects is so momentous as to trigger the major-questions doctrine. The Internet will continue to sustain its enormous economic and social value under our actions today, just as it did under the 2015 Order.”

The pending net neutrality order “is the antithesis of the Supreme Court’s major-questions cases,” the FCC said. “There is nothing novel about the Commission’s exercise of its classification power here,” as the agency has exercised it numerous times, it said. “Regulating communications services and determining the proper regulatory classification of broadband falls squarely within the Federal Communications Commission’s wheelhouse,” the commission said.

Cato’s Skorup disagreed. The agency sees national security implications in net neutrality and finds that it’s important for free speech, “telegraphing they believe” it’s a major question, he said.

It’s unclear how the Supreme Court seemingly heading toward some change to its Chevron doctrine would play out in the inevitable appeal of the FCC’s order. The net neutrality issue isn’t about the FCC having superior insight into the nature of broadband but is a political question about oversight, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum president. By the time a net neutrality case comes before the D.C. Circuit, there would likely be a SCOTUS ruling affecting Chevron, and the appellate court would have to be guided by it, he said.

CCIA’s Joyce said that even if SCOTUS rejects Chevron, that doesn’t apply to net neutrality, since it doesn’t involve a brand new and novel FCC action. “How can you possibly say that about whether broadband is a Title II service?” she asked. “This stuff is old.”

Some see a net neutrality legal fight charting new territory. The draft order is broader than 2015’s, with issues of national security and broadband contributing to Universal Service Fund (USF), so there are several different issues than were involved in the past, said Holtz-Eakin.

While it seems likely that SCOTUS will curtail or reject the Chevron doctrine sometime this summer, that isn’t going to deter the FCC, Skorup said. But it could change how the D.C. Circuit — which upheld the 2015 net neutrality order — approaches things, he said. Given SCOTUS reversals of the D.C. Circuit on federal agency deference issues, such as 2021’s Alabama Association of Realtors decision, “I would hope the D.C. Circuit would get the message … that it needs to apply more scrutiny than it is giving agencies currently,” he said.

The net neutrality rule will undoubtedly be characterized by the reviewing court as a major question because it is an issue of ‘vast economic and political significance,’” emailed Thomas McGarity, University of Texas’ Lozano Long Professor in Administrative Law. “That being the case, Chevron will be inapplicable,” he said: “The court will only ask whether Congress has clearly authorized the agency to promulgate the rule. The clarity of the authorization will be the primary issue on appeal.”

Other lawyers said it’s not preordained that the order will be overturned.

“It’s important to remember that the only reason why broadband is an ‘information service’ is because of Chevron deference,” said Public Knowledge Senior Vice President Harold Feld. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003 ruled that cable modem service was a telecom service, he said. SCOTUS’ 2005 Brand X decision, then “reversed the 9th Circuit on the grounds of Chevron deference. In 2019, the 2017 order rolling back the 2015 net neutrality rules survived a challenge at the D.C. circuit only because of precedent,” Feld said.

Two of the judges, Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins, indicated they would have found the rollback order “arbitrary … but for Chevron and Brand X.  One cannot help what activist judges will do,” but if the pending order is returned to the D.C. Circuit, “I would expect it to be affirmed,” Feld added.

The Supreme Court held in Brand X that the FCC has the discretion to decide how to classify broadband, emailed Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Senior Counselor Andrew Schwartzman.

“If, as is likely, the Chevron, and Brand X precedents will be modified to some degree this spring, and depending on what the Court says, the matter might then have to be resolved by analysis of the text,” he said.

Perkins Coie’s Martin said it’s likely the D.C. Circuit could affirm the FCC’s action again, as there’s consistent precedent that agency action on the matter is OK. However, if SCOTUS overturns Chevron, the appellate court may feel compelled to come out differently, he said. And if the D.C. Circuit overturns the FCC, SCOTUS could very well deny any subsequent cert petition by the agency, he said.  Schwartzman questioned whether SCOTUS will ultimately hear the case. The court is “loath to overrule precedent unless absolutely necessary,” he said.

CTIA discussed concerns about how non-broadband internet access services are treated under the draft net neutrality order circulated by Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. In meetings with staff for all five commissioners, CTIA asked the FCC to remove warnings not present in the 2015 order. Non-BIAS services, and network slicing, have emerged as major issues. The draft “favorably references non-BIAS use cases that ‘cannot be met over the Open Internet,’ but any suggestion that an offering that can function to some extent over BIAS must be offered over BIAS would be a dramatic shift from the 2015 framework,” said a filing posted Wednesday in docket 23-320. The draft also says the commission “will closely monitor any services that have a negative effect on the performance of BIAS in any given moment or the capacity available for BIAS over time” and that the commission “will be watchful of services that do not require isolated capacity.

CTIA said, “The 2015 Order did not set forth any of these rigid warnings, and for good reason. The net effect of such guidance could restrict the offering of non-BIAS services. Customers would lose out on choice and innovation, and networks would operate less efficiently.”



Link to the Draft Declaratory Ruling, Order, Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-401676A1.pdf

Link to the April 25, 2024 Meeting webpage: https://www.fcc.gov/april-2024-open-commission-meeting



FCC Draft Net Neutrality Order reclassifies broadband access; leaves 5G network slicing unresolved

FCC Votes to Reverse Net Neutrality & No Longer Regulate Broadband Internet Services

Internet Association to Join Law Suits to Restore Net Neutrality

Is FCC Net Neutrality Rollback Coming? Will that spark cablcos investment in rural/ suburban areas? 






FCC Draft Net Neutrality Order reclassifies broadband access; leaves 5G network slicing unresolved


The FCC will take a series of steps to reestablish the commission’s net neutrality framework and reclassify broadband internet access service (BIAS) as a Communications Act Title II telecom service in a 434 page declaratory ruling and order which doesn’t resolve the issue of network slicing as a paid priority 5G service.

A draft of the items to be considered during the agency’s April meeting, released Thursday, would establish “broad” and “tailored” forbearance for ISPs.  “Access to broadband Internet is now an unquestionable necessity. We also exercise broad forbearance for broadband providers as part of the Title II reclassification. Since the Commission’s abdication of authority over broadband in 2017, there has been no federal oversight over this vital service. This item would reestablish the Commission’s authority to protect consumers and safeguard the fair and open Internet, which protects free expression, encourages competition and innovation, and is critical to public safety and national security.”

Network Slicing:

The draft doesn’t make a final determination on how network slicing should be treated under the rules.  Network slicing, which requires a 5G SA core network, enables 5G network operators to create multiple virtual networks on top of a shared network. How slicing should be treated has been hotly contested.

“To the extent network slicing falls outside of BIAS, we will closely monitor these uses to evaluate if they are providing the functional equivalent of BIAS, being used to evade our open Internet rules, or otherwise undermining investment, innovation, competition, or end-user benefits in the Internet ecosystem,” the draft said.

“The record reflects that the potential use cases for network slicing are still under development” and that carriers “are in the early stages of adopting the technique, with some moving more quickly than others.  Given the nascent nature of network slicing, we conclude that it is not appropriate at this time to make a categorical determination regarding all network slicing and the services delivered through the use of network slicing.”

Yet the document also says it agrees with NCTA “that we ‘should not allow network slicing to be used to evade [the] Open Internet rules.’”

The FCC declined to do what either side wanted” on slicing, New Street’s Blair Levin stated in a note to investors. “While this was not the clear, decisive win the wireless providers may have hoped for, we don’t believe this or a future FCC is likely to crack down on the primary uses of network slicing, which we understand to be network management techniques that better match wireless services to specific needs in ways that increase spectrum utilization.”

The text left me rather confused more than reassured,” Digital Progress Institute President Joel Thayer said Friday. The commission seems interested in addressing slicing case by case, he said: “This does not bode well for consumer-facing uses of slicing as that tech starts to develop.”

One implication is the FCC might crack down on slicing if the agency sees it as a form of paid prioritization of network traffic, said Jonathan Cannon, R Street Institute policy counsel-technology and innovation and former aide to FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington.

The report and order would: “Reinstate straightforward, clear rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, or engaging in paid or affiliated prioritization arrangements, and adopt certain enhancements to the transparency rule.”


The new FCC order would adopt “conduct-based rules” in the commission’s net neutrality framework, establishing “bright-line rules to prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization” by ISPs. An accompanying draft report and order would also reinstate a general conduct standard and establish a “multi-faceted enforcement framework.”

The draft declaratory ruling would officially reclassify broadband as a Title II service, saying the step would allow the commission to “more effectively safeguard the open internet” and establish a nationwide framework. The draft would largely adopt the commission’s 2015 rules on forbearance, making clear that the record “does not convincingly show that imposing universal service contribution requirements on BIAS is necessary at this time.”

The commission in the draft defended reclassification as a national security matter, noting it has previously taken action under Title II to address national security threats against voice services. “The nation’s communications networks are critical infrastructure, and therefore too important to leave entirely to market forces that may sometimes, but not always, align with necessary national security measures,” the item said.

The draft declaratory ruling also addresses the impact of reclassification on the commission’s universal service goals under section 254 of the Communications Act. Reclassification “will put the commission on the firmest legal ground to promote the universal service goals of section 254 by enabling the commission and states to designate BIAS-only providers” as eligible telecom carriers, the draft said, adding that BIAS-only providers would be allowed to participate in the high-cost and Lifeline programs.

The draft elaborates on the importance of reclassifying broadband to the agency’s authorities under Section 214 of the Communications Act, another issue raised by industry (see 2403070040). Reclassification “enhances the Commission’s ability to protect the nation’s communications networks from entities that pose threats to national security and law enforcement.”

We find that reclassification will significantly bolster the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities to safeguard national security and law enforcement,” the draft said: “There can be no question about the importance to our national security of maintaining the integrity of our critical infrastructure, including communications networks.” It noted that Congress created the FCC “for the purpose of the national defense.”

The agency dismissed arguments that reclassification isn’t justified for national security purposes: “The nation’s communications networks are critical infrastructure, and therefore too important to leave entirely to market forces that may sometimes, but not always, align with necessary national security measures.” Arguments about potential costs “are unpersuasive given that, at this point, they represent only speculation about hypothetical costs and burdens.”

A draft order on reconsideration included with Thursday’s item said the net neutrality order would resolve four outstanding petitions for reconsideration filed against the FCC’s 2020 net neutrality remand order by Incompas, California’s Santa Clara County, Public Knowledge, and jointly several public interest groups including Common Cause. “As a procedural matter, we find that we have effectively provided the relief sought by each of the Petitions through a combination of the 2023 Open Internet NPRM and today’s actions,” the draft order said. “In light of the Commission’s actions today, we grant in large part and otherwise dismiss as moot” all four petitions for reconsideration. “We agree with the petitioners that the Commission’s analysis in the [Restoring Internet Freedom] Order and RIF Remand Order was insufficient in addressing the public safety, pole attachment, and Lifeline-related repercussions of classifying BIAS as a Title I service,” the draft said.

House Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Communications Subcommittee ranking member Doris Matsui, D-Calif., praised Rosenworcel “for moving to finalize rules that reflect reality: broadband internet service is critical infrastructure and an indispensable part of American life, and it must be treated that way.” The FCC’s move for Title II reclassification shows the commission is “recognizing this reality and asserting its rightful authority over broadband providers in order to protect this vital service and the hundreds of millions who rely on it each day,” Pallone and Matsui said. The two lawmakers “have confidence that a court reviewing this action will uphold it, just as courts have done in the past.” Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also lauded the proposal Thursday after earlier urging Rosenworcel to prevent loopholes in the rules.

The House Commerce GOP majority was tight-lipped after the draft’s release Thursday. Republican members tweeted Wednesday that the net neutrality proposal showed the commission “continues pushing Biden’s Broadband Takeover by imposing unnecessary heavy-handed regulations.”





BT Group, Ericsson and Qualcomm demo network slicing on 5G SA core network in UK

ABI Research: 5G Network Slicing Market Slows; T-Mobile says “it’s time to unleash Network Slicing”

Ericsson, Intel and Microsoft demo 5G network slicing on a Windows laptop in Sweden

Is 5G network slicing dead before arrival? Replaced by private 5G?

5G Network Slicing Tutorial + Ericsson releases 5G RAN slicing software

Network Slicing and 5G: Why it’s important, ITU-T SG 13 work, related IEEE ComSoc paper abstracts/overviews




Is FCC Net Neutrality Rollback Coming? Will that spark cablcos investment in rural/ suburban areas? AT&T won’t challenge FTC

Net neutrality advocates are declaring June 26 another day of action in support of Democrats’ resolution to restore the 2015 Obama-era net neutrality rules. Public Knowledge, Common Cause, Consumers Union and other groups want to bring pro-net neutrality Americans directly to the offices of their representatives in the House to lobby for passage of the measure, drawn up under the Congressional Review Act. The Senate passed it 52-47 last month, and so far 124 House lawmakers have signed the paperwork to force a floor vote (they need 218, so they’ve got some work cut out for them). TechFreedom is hosting a more skeptical panel discussion on Democrats’ effort Tuesday. Among the panelists slated to appear is Grace Koh, who advised President Trump on telecom issues until she left the White House earlier this year.

Tom Leithauser of TR Daily (subscription required) wrote yesterday:

The rollback of net neutrality rules by the FCC will spark broadband investment in rural and suburban areas served by small and mid-sized cable TV operators, Matthew Polka, president and chief executive officer of the American Cable Association, said on this week’s “The Communicators” program.

“It created a sense of greater innovation and investment that these companies can now deploy,” Mr. Polka said on the show, which is set to air on C-SPAN tomorrow and C-SPAN2 on Monday.

He noted that broadband networks were increasingly being viewed as “infrastructure” by policy-makers and that deployment to underserved and unserved areas was a top priority at the FCC and among some members of Congress.

One impediment to broadband deployment, he said, is the time and cost required to arrange access to utility poles. Andrew Petersen, an ACA board member and senior vice president for TDS Telecom who also appeared on the C-SPAN program, said pole attachment rates for his company averaged $7.80 per pole, but were significantly higher in some markets. “It really retards our ability to make those investments to extend broadband,” Mr. Petersen said.

Mr. Petersen expressed hope that the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee would offer recommendations on ways to lower the cost of pole attachments and other broadband deployment expenses, which he said were his company’s top cost.

“When you bring robust broadband to a new area, you’re combatting the ‘homework gap,’ [and] you’re allowing for economic development and commerce to take place,” Mr. Petersen said. He said it was unlikely, however, for 5G service to bring broadband to unserved areas because those areas generally lack structures needed to place 5G equipment.

“We’re not bullish that 5G is going to make its way to suburban and rural areas immediately,” he said. “I don’t believe 5G technology is going to make its way to those areas in the next several years.”

In a related CNET post, Margaret Reardon wrote:

AT&T has given up efforts to challenge the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to regulate broadband (Internet access) providers.  AT&T on Tuesday informed court officials that it would not file a petition to the US Supreme Court to challenge a lower court’s decision in the case. In 2014, the FTC sued AT&T in the US District Court of Northern California, accusing the company of promising unlimited data service to customers and then slowing that service down to rates that were barely usable. The case hasn’t yet gone to trial since AT&T had argued that the FTC has no authority over any of AT&T’s businesses.

The US Appeals court in Northern California rejected that argument in February and said the case could proceed. AT&T had until May 29 to file an appeal the the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.

AT&T indicated earlier this month in a status report submitted to the appeals court that it was considering appealing to the Supreme Court to stop the case.

This case was being closely watched by net neutrality supporters, because the question of whether the FTC has authority over AT&T would have had big implications for the future of the internet and whether there will be any cop on the beat ensuring that consumers are protected from big phone companies abusing their power online.

Why? When the Federal Communications Commission gave up its authority to police the internet with its repeal of net neutrality regulations in December, it specifically handed authority to protect consumers online to the FTC.

Net neutrality is the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally and that large companies like AT&T, which is trying to buy Time Warner, can’t favor their own content over a competitor’s content. Rules adopted by a Democrat-led FCC in 2015 codified these principles into regulation. The current FCC, controlled by Republicans, voted to repeal the regulations and hand over authority to protect internet consumers to the FTC.

But there was one hitch in the law that could have made it impossible for the FTC to oversee some of the biggest broadband companies. Many of these companies, like AT&T and Verizon, also operate traditional telephone networks, which are still regulated by the FCC. AT&T argued that because some aspects of its business, like its traditional phone services, are regulated by the FCC, the FTC doesn’t have jurisdiction.

A federal appeals court disagreed with AT&T’s argument, stating the FTC can fill in oversight gaps when certain services, like broadband, aren’t regulated by the FCC. If AT&T had appealed to the Supreme Court and if the court had taken the case and ruled in AT&T’s favor, it would have meant that phone companies providing broadband or wireless internet services would be immune from government oversight. By contrast, cable companies, which do not operate traditional phone networks regulated by the FCC, would still be under the authority of the FTC.

For now, that doomsday scenario is put to rest and the lower court’s ruling that the FTC can, in fact, oversee all broadband providers stands.

Meanwhile, net neutrality supporters continue their fight to preserve the 2015 rules. Several states, including California and New York, are considering legislation to reinstate net neutrality rules. Earlier this year, Washington became the first state to sign such legislation into law. Governors in several states, including New Jersey and Montana, have signed executive orders requiring ISPs that do business with the state adhere to net neutrality principles.

Democrats in the US Senate are also trying to reinstate the FCC’s rules through the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress 60 legislative days in which to overturn federal regulations. The resolution passed the Senate earlier this month and must pass the House of Representatives and eventually be signed into law by President Donald Trump to officially turn back the repeal of the rules.

Internet Association to Join Law Suits to Restore Net Neutrality


The Internet Association, a Washington trade group representing prominent tech companies including Facebook, Google and Netflix, announced plans Friday January 5th to help sue the federal government over its decision to rescind Obama era FCC regulations that guaranteed equal access to the Internet (AKA “net neutrality”).  The Association said it would act as an “intervenor” in expected litigation over the FCC’s action.

That means that the Association won’t file its own lawsuit, but would join a legal action filed by others. Public interest groups and some state attorneys general have said they intend to challenge the repeal in court.

Net neutrality supporters argue that agency’s plan is illegal under federal laws that prohibit “arbitrary and capricious” changes in regulations, and that the agency didn’t gather sufficient public input on its proposal to overturn its old rules.

“The final version of Chairman Pai’s rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers,” Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, said in a statement. “This rule defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet. IA intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution.”

The FCC on Thursday posted the final text version of its new Internet rules, which it calls “Restoring Internet Freedom”  (do you believe that?).  Those rules are expected to enter the Federal Register in the coming weeks.

Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (pictured above), has said the repeal of the rules will free ISPs from regulatory burdens that harm investment.  He was scheduled to speak at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, but canceled due to death threats according to Recode which stated that the cancellation was in response to security concerns.

Pai has received sharp criticism since the vote, but defended his position by saying the rules were a heavy-handed approach to government regulation. Pai canceled a planned appearance at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas next week because of death threats, technology website Recode reported Friday. It is unclear whether the threats were connected to Pai’s net neutrality decision, which has drawn rancor on social media.

Congressional and Legal Challenges:

U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is seeking to secure the votes that would force a vote to reverse the FCC’s action and restore the rules, via the Congressional Review Act. The move would be somewhat symbolic, as many Republicans support the FCC’s decision and President Donald Trump would be expected to veto such an action, if it were ever to reach his desk.

This week, California state Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill that requires telecommunications companies doing business in the state to guarantee equal Internet access. State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles, is backing a similar bill. Efforts are also under way in New York and Washington state to write their own rules guaranteeing equal Internet access to consumers.

Several government officials and advocacy groups have said they plan legal action, but they all have to wait until the FCC repeal order is published in the Federal Register.


Opinions and Other Voices:

Noah Theran, an Internet Association spokesman, said open Internet rules helped level the playing field among companies, both small and large, in terms of their ability to reach people.

“The best websites and apps should win in a competitive marketplace because consumers like and use them, not because an ISP is picking winners and losers online by speeding up, blocking, or throttling access to certain sites,” Theran said in an email.

AT&T Senior Executive Vice President Bob Quinn said in a blog post after the December 2017 vote that “the Internet will continue to work tomorrow just as it always has.” He added that the company won’t block, censor or slow traffic to websites “based on content, nor unfairly discriminate in our treatment of Internet traffic.”

As expected, video streaming giant Netflix sharply criticized the December FCC vote to end net neutrality. “Today’s decision is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix will stand with innovators, large and small, to oppose this misguided FCC order,” the Los Gatos, CA company said in a statement.

in 2006 Google co-founder Sergey Brin traveled to Washington, DC to make the case for net neutrality. Yet the internet giants were eerily quiet last year, other than filing comments with the FCC in support of the Obama-era rules, and placing a few notifications on their websites during the Day of Action.  Apple is conspicuously missing from the group, but broke a long silence on the topic of net neutrality last year when it filed its own FCC comment in support of net neutrality.

Emmett Shear, CEO of the popular San Francisco video game streaming company Twitch, now owned by Amazon.com, said startups like his were able to succeed because of net neutrality.

“Without it, we might not be here today, and our streamers might not be here tomorrow,” Shear said in a blog post written in anticipation of the FCC’s reversal.







Internet Association Will Join Legal Battle to Fight FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal




In response to an IEEE member email, I hereby provide background on the 2015 Net Neutrality FCC decision to classify the Internet as a regulated service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.  Specifically:

On February 26, 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.   On April 13, 2015, the FCC published the final rule on its new “net neutrality” regulations
Prior to that time, there were isolated cases of ISPs blocking (e.g. Comcast blocking BitTorent & other peer to peer) Internet traffic.  Here are a few articles on ISP blocking Internet traffic:
However,there were many cases of ISPs slowing down/ throttling user traffic, as per this 2015 report: