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FCC Affirms Net Neutrality Repeal in Answering Court Questions

Oct. 27, 2020, 3:29 PM

The Federal Communications Commission adopted an order Tuesday addressing outstanding legal issues raised by the D.C. Circuit about the 2017 repeal of net neutrality rules.

The order, adopted in a 3-2 vote with both Democratic members dissenting, concludes that repealing net neutrality rules increased broadband investment, aided public safety and encouraged more infrastructure. It also found that the repeal doesn’t affect the FCC’s ability to provide Lifeline subsidies to broadband providers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a statement before the vote, defended the FCC’s 2017 action to repeal the rules, which faced fierce backlash from net neutrality supporters.

“We stand by and reaffirm the decision we made in 2017, a decision that with the passage of time has proven correct,” Pai said. “More Americans have access to broadband, broadband networks are stronger and faster than ever, and the internet is free and open.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year asked the FCC to consider how the repeal affects public safety, the Lifeline program that helps low-income Americans pay phone bills, and its authority to regulate the attachment of telecom equipment to utility poles.

The court mostly upheld the agency’s repeal of net neutrality rules that required broadband providers to treat all internet traffic equally.

Democrats accused the GOP-led FCC of doubling down on its net neutrality repeal, without appropriately addressing issues raised by the court.

The court “told us that our decision was wrong for public safety, wrong for broadband infrastructure, and wrong for low-income households,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said before the vote. “But this order on remand makes apparent this agency is not interested in getting it right.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Reid in Washington at jreid@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com
Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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