FCC leader wants to reinstate net neutrality

Robin Layton

Sep 27, 2023 — 2 min read

We break it down to explain what that may mean for internet providers and consumers.

Jessica Rosenworcel, commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Jessica Rosenworcel, is proposing to reinstate net neutrality rules. In a nutshell, this would put the regulation of broadband services and standards back under the commission’s control. 

What is net neutrality? A dictionary definition is “that internet service providers (ISPs) should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.”

Basically, there’s a fear that without net neutrality, ISPs could use a pay-to-play model, making certain websites faster or slow down access to others, depending on who pays them for fast service.

The FCC announced this week, “The proposed rules would return fixed and mobile broadband service to its status as an essential ‘telecommunications’ service. The proposal will be made public and will allow for public input. The proposal seeks to largely return to the successful rules the Commission adopted in 2015.”

A political hot-button issue, net neutrality has been fought over for many years across a few administrations. 

What does net neutrality mean for internet customers and ISPs?

Net neutrality would theoretically keep ISPs from deciding which sites you see the most and preventing any blocking of sites and content.

According to the FCC, net neutrality would establish basic rules for ISPs to follow, preventing them from blocking legal content, slowing your speeds or creating “fast lanes” for those who pay for access. It would also allow the FCC to increase defense against online security threats, create a national standard of broadband connections and keep everyone notified of internet outages.

“Such rules would affirm — under Title II of the Communications Act — that broadband service is on par with water, power, and phone service; that is: essential,” shared the FCC. 

Disagreement on the benefits of net neutrality

Not all FCC commissioners are behind bringing back net neutrality. Commissioner Brendan Carr opposes the move.

“Since the FCC’s 2017 decision to restore Internet freedom, broadband speeds in the U.S. are up, prices are down, competition has increased, and record-breaking broadband builds brought millions of Americans across the digital divide.  Utility-style regulation of the Internet was never about improving your online experience—that was just the sheep’s clothing,” said Carr in a press release.

Carr feels the regulations will open the door to broadband regulations and slow down rural broadband expansion.

Next steps

​​If this proposal is adopted by a vote of the full commission in October, the agency will begin a new rulemaking to take public comment and reply to comments on the proposal. “Any person or organization can file comments and see others’ comments at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs. After a review of that public record, the Chairwoman can decide whether and how to proceed, including adopting final rules which would also require a majority vote of the bipartisan FCC.”

Find more broadband news and studies on trends in the industry on Allconnect’s news hub and research hub.

Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin Layton is an editor for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. She built her internet industry expertise writing and editing for four years on the site, as well as on Allconnect’s sister site MYMOVE.com. … Read more