Earlier today President Biden signed the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, and in it were several provisions related to net neutrality. The FCC and FTC. from the previous administration the Obama era rules reversed in those areas, and now there is a clear agenda to restore them.
Guidelines for the FCC from the order:
(i) adopt through appropriate regulation “net neutrality” rules similar to those previously passed under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (Public Law 73-416, 48 Stat. 1064, 47 USC 151 and seq. ), as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, in “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet,” 80 Fed. reg. 19738 (April 13, 2015);
(iv) prohibiting unjust or unreasonable fees for early termination of communications contracts with end-users, making it easier for consumers to switch providers;
(v) initiating regulation requiring broadband service providers to display a consumer broadband label, as outlined in the Commission’s Public Notice of 4 April 2016 (DA 16-357), to provide consumers with clear, concise and accurate information about carrier prices and fees, performance and network practices;
(vi) initiating regulation to require broadband service providers to regularly report broadband price and subscription rates to the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of disseminating that information to the public in a useful manner, to improve price transparency and market functioning ; and
(vii) initiating regulation to prevent landlords and cable and internet service providers from hindering tenants’ choice between providers.
The FCC is now tasked with reviving the “Broadband Nutrition Label” that was in development in 2016. The label would provide providers with a standardized format to display their price, data limits and performance details, similar to the labels you currently see on food in the supermarket.
The FCC has also been asked to initiate the process of requiring ISPs to report their prices to the FCC on a regular basis to “improve price transparency and market functioning.” As Multi-channel news points out that implementing these changes will require the addition of a third commissioner to the FCC who will vote in favor of these measures, breaking the current 2-2 tie. Current Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that “I welcome this effort by the President to increase competition in the US economy and in the country’s communications sector.”
Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr was expected to have a no vote on many of these policies, and says that this order “appears to double down on price controls, government-run networks, and monopoly-like regulations — actions that would only make it harder for smaller providers and new entrants to compete.”
While ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon have not yet responded to requests for comment from The edge, cable industry lobby groups quickly released their own information.
Speaking to a group representing “small and medium cable operators,” Matthew Polka, president of the American Communications Association, chose to largely ignore everything in the order. Instead, his statement focuses on what he sees as a lack of competitive market for another target, studios and broadcasters, in a statement that says “Every day our members are unfairly abused by major video programmers and broadcasting groups, driving our customers’ video speeds soaring…members fear that dominant internet platforms and powerful streaming services may choose not to make their services available to the subscribers of some smaller ones. ISPs.”
The NCTA counts Comcast, WarnerMedia, Disney, Charter, and Cox among its members and is ostensibly in favor of a “open internet‘, as long as no one tries to classify broadband as a utility or passes rules to ensure it stays that way. The cable industry group has issued a statement (with no name attached) saying, “We are disappointed that the Executive Order is once again citing misleading claims about the broadband market, including the tired and refuted claim that ISPs would block or hinder consumers from accessing Internet content of their choice.”
Likewise, the CTIA represents the interests of its affiliated wireless carriers and acts against the warrant. In its own statement, the association says: claims Unfortunately, the highly regulatory approach outlined in today’s order risks harming consumers by distracting from the twin efforts to close the digital divide, hinder new competitive choices and innovation, jeopardize new job creation. and unnecessarily jeopardize our country’s future technological leadership.”
On the other hand, Free Press VP of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood says “The FCC must undo the damage done by the Trump administration, which presided over rising prices and dwindling investment in broadband, while pretending that an inaction deregulatory approach would solve these problems… When the Trump FCC applied the right legal framework and policy in 2017, people of every political color were overwhelmingly against that repeal. When we finally have a full and functioning FCC committed to advancing the public interest, the agency can get the job done — taking the kinds of steps outlined in the current executive order and more.”