What Happens at FCC in 2017?

Though it is likely network neutrality rules will be changed under a new Federal Communications Commission, we are likely mostly to see a return to “internet freedoms” rules that emphasize access to all lawful apps, a position we might call “weak” network neutrality, compared to the strong form of net neutrality (best effort only access, no quality of service mechanisms) that has been the recent policy.

At the same time, much of the change will come in the area of “why and how” network neutrality rules are justified, with a likely move away from Title II common carrier regulation and FCC action justified by the Communications Act Section 706 rules.

Separate from the specific network neutrality provisions themselves, there has been debate over the imposition of such rules using either common carrier or “report-making” authority that becomes “regulating” authority.

The other change is institutional. Unlike the recent FCC, the new FCC likely will prefer that consumer protection and potential antitrust issues be overseen by the Federal
Trade Commission, not the FCC.

Expect the FCC to undo both claims of legal authority underlying the FCC’s net neutrality regulations: Title II and Section 706. What has fueled the fight over the last decade is the FCC’s authority, not the core of “net neutrality” itself, says Berin Sz√≥ka, TechFreedom president.

We might also see more spending on universal access and support for broadband deployment, with new incentives for deployment in urban areas.


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