In a historic Federal Communications Committee (FCC) vote, the United States telecoms regulator has voted to approve strong Net Neutrality rules by reclassifying consumer broadband as a utility.
The American telecoms regulator enacted strong, sustainable net neutrality rules that are grounded in multiple sources of legal authority.
While nearly 15 years ago, the FCC constrained its ability to protect against threats to the open Internet by a regulatory classification of broadband that precluded use of statutory protections that historically ensured the openness of telephone networks, the nature of broadband Internet access service has significantly changed since this initial classification, with broadband providers having more incentives to interfere with Internet openness.
Responding to this changed landscape, the FCC voted for a new Open Internet Order, which restores the FCC’s legal authority to fully address threats to openness on today’s networks by reclassifying broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act.
“Broadband networks are the most powerful and pervasive connectivity in history,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, adding that “there are three simple keys to our broadband future. Broadband networks must be fast. Broadband networks must be fair. Broadband networks must be open.”
The new rules apply to fixed and mobile broadband alike, and include the following internet service prohibitions:
- No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no “fast lanes.” This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.