On Friday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2666, “No Rate Regulation on Broadband Internet Access.” It now goes on to the Senate, but President Obama has signaled he would veto the bill. It prevents the FCC from regulating rates charged for Internet services.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated opposition last month in a letter to Fred Upton, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Passage of the bill would “introduce significant uncertainty into the Commission’s ability to enforce the three bright line rules that bar blocking, throttling and paid prioritization,” Wheeler says.
“Today the House of Representatives passed common-sense legislation to stop the Federal Communications Commission from regulating broadband Internet access rates,” FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai says in a statement released Friday. “This bipartisan measure codifies what President Obama told the FCC to do in 2014 and what Chairman Wheeler promised to do in 2015.”
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly agreed with that sentiment stating the passage of H.R. 2666 “will hold the Commission to its promise, often-repeated during its net neutrality proceeding, not to regulate broadband Internet access rates.”
The American Cable Association also put out a statement praising the bill. “When the FCC in February 2015, reclassified broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service subject to strict common carrier regulation, the FCC’s leadership assured ISPs it would refrain from regulating retail broadband rates,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka notes.
He further states that the bill “codifies those promises as well as shields the market from action taken in this area by future FCC leaders who might not feel bound by promises made by earlier FCC officials.”
Public Knowledge underlined its opposition to H.R. 2666 through a statement by Chris Lewis, VP of government affairs.
“The prohibition in H.R. 2666 targets the power of the FCC to maintain an open Internet as well as enforcing basic consumer protections. The bill will also prevent the FCC from reviewing merger agreements to provide low-cost broadband to low-income Americans,” Lewis says. “It will even prevent the FCC from investigating discriminatory data caps or making decisions around pay-for-privacy schemes in its privacy rules.”
“This bill is not necessary, and beyond that it’s dangerous for consumers. It gives cable and big ISPs the power to change the Internet as we know it, setting themselves up as gatekeepers. The Senate should reject it, as the president has,” Lewis adds.
Filed Under: Industry regulations