FCC repeals the Open Internet Order and replaces it with the Restoring Internet Freedom Order

15 2017 December

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines on December 14 to repeal the Open Internet Order passed in 2015 and replace it with the new Restoring Internet Freedom Order, reports Lightreading. The new order returns broadband service to its classification as a Title I information service, and removes so-called bright line rules that prohibit Internet service providers from blocking, throttling or giving preferential treatment to traffic through paid prioritization.

While the decision is highly polarized among businesses and public, WISP Association published its chairman's Chuk Hogg's statement in support of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's call for a better approach to net neutrality.

In it, WISPA expresses appreciation for citing its research on the cost of the net neutrality rules, which found that more than 80 percent of Association's members had incurred additional expenses, had delayed or reduced services, and had allocated significant financial and human resources to comply with the current rules.

WISPA states that it supports a free and open internet. "We also agree that ISPs should clearly disclose the terms of the services they offer to consumers, and we support robust privacy protections for our members’ customers", says Hogg in his statement on WISPA website, adding that however, in comments filed at the FCC in this proceeding, WISPA argued that regulating broadband providers like utilities under Title II of the Communications Act and adopting a vague “general conduct rule” has created uncertainties that have undermined investor confidence, which ultimately affects WISPs’ abilities to provide better service to consumers.

We look forward to reviewing the details of his proposal; and we hope to work with the FCC and other stakeholders to develop regulations and spectrum policies that enhance investment, innovation, and consumer choice, especially in under-served areas, says Chuck Hogg, Chairman of WISPA.

While the FCC's decision was expected, it also sparked an uproar from net neutrality proponents who believe the regulatory reversal is against the public interest and will lead to pay-for-play delivery of content on the web.

In arguing for the new order, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)Chairman Ajit Pai contended that the Internet doesn't need utility-style regulation, and that the imposition of the earlier Open Internet Order led to a decrease in broadband investment -- a conclusion that is much debated. (See The Title II Capex Argument Is Ridiculous.)

He also asserted that the Federal Trade Commission is the right agency to protect consumers from unfair and anti-competitive practices online, which it will once again be in a position to do now that ISPs are under Title I classification.

"Today, we are putting the nation's premier consumer protection cop back on the beat," says Pai.

Read the full article on Lightreading here.

Read WISPA press release here.

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