FCC Chairwoman To Propose Reinstating Net Neutrality Rules

FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel will unveil plans later on Tuesday to reinstate net neutrality rules, the set of regulations that require broadband provides treat internet traffic equally.

The rules would prohibit internet providers like Comcast and AT&T from blocking and throttling traffic, or from offering internet sites speedier access to consumers if they pay extra fees.

The proposal likely will be met with staunch opposition from major internet providers, who have long argued that such regulations are not needed. The FCC has had several previous iterations of the net neutrality rules, with a robust set of regulations repealed by the Donald Trump-era commission in 2017, when Republican controlled the commission.

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Rosenworcel is announcing the proposal one day after a third Democrat, Anna Gomez, was sworn in on the commission, giving the party a majority for the first time since President Joe Biden took office. The 2-2 deadlock at the FCC has prevented Rosenworcel from taking up more controversial issues like net neutrality.

An initial vote on the proposal is being scheduled for the FCC’s Oct. 19 commission meeting, after which there will be a public comment period before a final decision. The timeline is subject to change given the possibility of a government shutdown.

A senior FCC official indicated that the proposal will mirror a set of rules passed in 2015. That includes its most contentious element, the reclassification of internet service as a Title II service, like that of a common carrier. That regulatory manuever is designed to give the agency a stronger legal authority to establish robust rules. The FCC would still be prohibited from rate regulation and network unbundling requirements.

More to come.

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