FCC Net neutrality update: U.S. Telecoms say reclassification will be ‘crushing’ to industry

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What is Title II?

Title II first came into being with the Communications Act, which was passed in 1934 to establish the Federal Communications Commission and end AT&T’s monopoly over customers. Among other things, Title II banned companies from participating in “unjust or unreasonable discrimination” when it came to providing phone services to customers.

Essentially, Title II was created to ensure that no customer would ever be denied the service they requested, so long as they are willing to pay for it. In other words, if you pay for unlimited 4G LTE data, your carrier can’t throttle your data speeds after you’ve used 5GB. To most customers, Title II may seem like common sense, so why are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers against the reclassification of broadband as a utility?

These companies mainly fear Section 201 of Title II, which would grant the FCC authority to set prices for services. ISPs argue that if the FCC set rates too low, they would be unable to invest in building up their networks, strengthening signals, and adding new, innovative technologies. However, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explicitly stated in his proposal that the FCC will not set tariffs or have any control over how much ISPs charge for their services.

Wheeler also overhauled Title II to ensure that any antiquated language from the 81-year-old law is removed or altered to suit the modern needs of today’s Internet regulators. Part of the retrofitting of Title II included deciding which parts of the law are now irrelevant. It turns out that the FCC stripped out more than 700 parts of Title II to make it apply to modern-day needs.

“This is a Title II tailored for the 21st century, and consistent with the ‘light-touch’ regulatory framework that has facilitated the tremendous investment and innovation on the Internet,” the FCC wrote. “We expressly eschew the future use of prescriptive, industry-wide rate regulation.”

The FCC added that it believes the revamped Title II law will ensure that the Internet remains open to consumers without fettering ISPs and carriers with undue regulation.

Next page: How will the FCC’s proposal keep the Internet open?


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