Net neutrality - or the Open Internet - is the concept that Internet service providers should not block, “throttle” (slow down or speed up online traffic) or allow paid priority access that advantages or disadvantages content providers.
Apartment firms increasingly rely on Internet-based systems and content for corporate-level functions and community operations. From marketing and leasing to revenue and additional services management, apartment firms and residents may be impacted by any FCC regulation affecting access and speed.
Without regulation, net neutrality proponents say the largest content providers, and those willing and able to pay for priority, could be significantly advantaged while other web content providers are blocked or slowed.
President Obama wants the FCC to reclassify consumer broadband service to allow an explicit ban on paid prioritization, with exceptions for providers to manage network operations, and to prioritize emergency services. However, the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee are objecting to any reclassification.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to the President, saying he is “grateful for the input” and will look to the public, Congress and the FCC commissioners as the independent agency drafts rules to “successfully protect both consumers and innovators online.”
Timing on an FCC regulatory proposal is unclear, but a draft must go to commissioners by mid-November for the FCC’s final meeting of the year on December 11. Chairman Wheeler had indicated FCC action by the end of the year, but a 2015 timeframe is a possibility in order for the agency to more fully consider the issue.
In May, the FCC launched its third regulatory attempt after a federal appeals court upheld its legal authority but struck key provisions of the agency’s 2010 Open Internet rules for treating Internet providers as “common carriers” without actually classifying Internet access as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC must address numerous policy and legal questions, and none is more complex or controversial than whether to pursue reclassification or a different approach it believes will withstand a challenge in court.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a hearing on FCC Oversight, and the commission's Net Neutrality rules specifically, on December 10.