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FCC Set to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules and Expand Broadband Oversight

 |  April 3, 2024

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to reinstate net neutrality regulations and extend its regulatory purview over broadband internet, as announced by FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. According to Reuters, the decision marks a significant reversal of policies initiated during the Trump administration, with implications for internet accessibility and fair competition.

The commission disclosed its intention to vote on the final rule during its upcoming April 25 meeting, as relayed to advocates on Tuesday. The proposed move follows a 3-2 vote in October to reinstate open internet rules established in 2015 and to reassert the FCC’s authority over broadband internet services.

Net neutrality, a principle ensuring equal access to online content and applications irrespective of their source, is a value at the core of the FCC’s regulatory agenda. Chair Rosenworcel underscored the necessity of broadband as an essential service, particularly underscored by the challenges highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: Net Neutrality: an E.U./U.S. Comparison

“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,” Rosenworcel stated in an interview with Reuters. “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.”

President Joe Biden has consistently championed the reinstatement of net neutrality regulations, aligning with an executive order issued in July 2021. The directive urged the FCC to revive the rules implemented under the Obama administration. However, Democrats faced obstacles in their efforts, as they only secured majority control of the FCC in October, nearly three years into the Biden administration.

During the Trump era, the FCC contended that net neutrality regulations stifled innovation and impeded investment in network infrastructure by internet service providers. However, Democrats refuted these claims, arguing for the necessity of regulations to maintain a level playing field in the digital landscape.

Rosenworcel emphasized that the reclassification would furnish the FCC with crucial national security tools. The agency’s proposal highlighted the potential to exert “more robust authority to require more entities to remove and replace” equipment and services from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE.

Source: Reuters