The FCC will not appeal the appeals court decision that recently struck down the commission’s Open Internet rules, also known as Net Neutrality. But that doesn’t mean the commission has given up on trying to impose such rules.
Instead, the FCC has opened a new docket called “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” that will seek public comment on Net Neutrality and on issues raised in the recent court decision that said the FCC had not established its authority to impose Open Internet rules.
“Preserving the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace is an important responsibility of this agency,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement today about the new Net Neutrality plans.
Wheeler also said the commission would consider a “close examination” of anti-municipal network legislation. Wheeler said such an examination might be a way of enhancing Internet access competition.
The appeals court that made the Open Internet decision said it would be appropriate for the FCC to impose Open Internet rules if the commission could establish its authority to do so. One obvious solution to that issue would be to reclassify broadband as a Title II communications service. The downside would be that broadband would then be subject to price regulation and other requirements traditionally associated with voice service.
Wheeler’s statement stops short of saying the FCC will classify broadband as a Title II service. But it does note that the commission will keep open a docket focused on the commission’s Title II authority.
Other upcoming FCC actions outlined in Wheeler’s statement include:
- Enforcing and enhancing the single Open Internet rule that was upheld by the appeals court, which requires network operators to disclose how they manage Internet traffic
- Considering “how, consistent with the court opinion, we can ensure that edge providers are not unfairly blocked, explicitly or implicitly, from reaching consumers, as well as ensuring that consumers can continue to access any lawful content and services they choose”
- Considering how existing authority could be used to protect and promote an Open Internet
- Holding broadband providers that have said they will continue to honor the Open Internet guidelines to that commitment
Wheeler won’t have the full support of the other four FCC commissioners. The two Republican commissioners both issued statements expressing opposition to Wheeler’s plans. “I am skeptical that this effort will end any differently from the last,” said Commissioner Ajit Pai. “The Internet was free and open before the FCC adopted net neutrality rules. It remains free and open today. Net neutrality has always been a solution in search of a problem.”