Biden Wants the FCC to Fix Net Neutrality—but It Can’t Yet

The FCC might additionally use its authority over widespread carriers to protect consumers in other ways. For instance, former FCC chair Ajit Pai’s web neutrality repeal concurrently wiped out the Obama-era price-transparency guidelines that Biden needs to convey again.

Senator Ed Markey (D–Massachusetts) applauded Biden’s name for restoring web neutrality guidelines. “As soon as there are three Democratic commissioners in place, the FCC must act without delay to reclassify broadband as a Title II service and reassert its authority over broadband,” Markey mentioned. “I also plan to soon introduce legislation to do the same by statute. We cannot and will not stop working until net neutrality is the law of the land.” The pandemic “highlighted what we already knew: broadband isn’t a luxury. Like running water and electricity, it is an essential utility that everyone needs,” Markey mentioned.

Cable Industry Criticizes Biden Order

The cable business’s major foyer group, NCTA–The Internet & Television Association, blasted Biden’s order.

“We are disappointed that the executive order rehashes misleading claims about the broadband marketplace, including the tired and disproven assertion that ISPs would block or throttle consumers from accessing the internet content of their choice,” NCTA mentioned on Friday. “America’s broadband networks have been the nation’s most resilient and critical infrastructure during the pandemic, keeping our economy moving and enabling our citizens to learn, work and stay connected from the safety of their homes. As policymakers and industry share the goal of connecting every American to robust and reliable broadband service, we hope the administration will put the rhetoric aside and focus on constructive solutions.”

NCTA and the USTelecom foyer group have repeatedly claimed that broadband costs are dropping. But their claims depend on a “price-per-megabit” calculation that does not mirror shoppers’ whole payments and a “broadband pricing index” that features the costs of solely a few service tiers as a substitute of the common or median value. The precise month-to-month value shoppers pay to web service suppliers has been rising far faster than inflation for years.

Municipal Broadband Plan Apparently Stalled

Biden first signaled plans to tackle the broadband business in late March when he mentioned he would decrease costs, finish hidden charges, and supply funding for municipal broadband networks. Publicly owned networks have “less pressure to turn profits and … a commitment to serving entire communities,” Biden famous at the time.

Biden initially proposed $100 billion in funding, with precedence entry going to publicly owned networks, triggering a spherical of lobbying by AT&T and other ISPs that intention to forestall competitors and wish broadband cash going solely to non-public firms. Biden ended up making a $65 billion deal with Republicans, apparently with none desire for public networks, however that is nonetheless topic to negotiations in Congress.

FCC Needs fifth Member to ‘Fully Function’

Biden can have much less direct involvement in implementing the measures he has requested the FCC to sort out, as a result of the FCC is an unbiased company that does not merely do what the president asks. The president does get to nominate commissioners and select the chair, so he can decide individuals who agree along with his priorities. But he has to truly decide somebody earlier than the FCC’s Democrats can get to work on something that entails a partisan battle like reclassifying broadband suppliers as widespread carriers, imposing web neutrality guidelines, and forcing ISPs to decrease costs and finish hidden charges.

“The executive order is important, but the processes and personnel to actually move ahead on these priorities are not in place yet … The agency needs a fifth commissioner to fully function,” Matt Wood, VP of coverage and basic counsel of Free Press, said Friday.

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