What Will New FCC Do?

Though it is hazardous to make too many predictions even before the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is reformed under President Donald Trump, it is safe to presume that a "lighter" touch on regulation  and likely a better chance for merger approvals could be in the offing. Just how much change is possible remains the issue.

Economist Jeff Eisenach and former Sprint Corp. lobbyist Mark Jamison now lead the Trump administration transition team to oversee hiring and policy for the FCC, and both are opponents of robust interpretations of network neutrality.

It is not yet clear how the new FCC will view existing rules such as Title II common carrier rules for internet access services, but it is likely the new Commission will not agree with that framework for internet access.

What is less clear is the type of network neutrality policies the FCC might consider. The present FCC had embraced “strong” forms of neutrality. The next FCC might opt for “modest” forms of neutrality. That might include the “no blocking of lawful apps” stances, or perhaps equal treatment of providers and apps within classes, but not a strict prohibition on optional access services that feature higher quality of service.

It is possible--in fact likely--that “best effort only” access (one functional definition of network neutrality) for consumer internet access would be retained, although various forms of managed services, zero rating and perhaps other packaging practices would be allowed to proceed, as well.

As it is lawful for an application provider to use content delivery services that actually do act to speed the delivery of some packets, but not all, it is possible optional tiers of service that include quality of service mechanisms might be allowed.

Still, the Commission might wait for Congressional direction on that matter.
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