According to net neutrality proponents, without regulation, the largest content providers, and those willing and able to pay for priority, would be significantly advantaged while others are blocked or slowed. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently implied that the FCC proposal may rely on Title II of the Communications Act, a statutory provision traditionally applied to telephone companies that prohibits “unjust or unreasonable” differences in providers’ services and charges. But critics contend that this could subject ISPs to rate regulation or mandate service to specific customers.
Meanwhile, a legislative approach was urged in an opinion editorial this week by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Fred Upton (R-MI). They emphasize that bipartisan legislation targeted to promote certainty, and encourage job creation and economic growth, would limit regulatory burdens and the likelihood of a lengthy legal challenge to FCC regulations. Democratic support is unclear and may depend on the FCC’s proposal.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) was also introduced this month directing the FCC to ban agreements for paid priority. The House and Senate Commerce Committees will hold back to back hearings next week on net neutrality.
NMHC/NAA continue to closely monitor and evaluate legislative and regulatory developments and will represent the industry’s interests as Congress and the FCC consider the various approaches to regulating the Internet.