Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Net Neutrality Comment Period Ends

Companies and industry players raced Monday to submit their final thoughts on the topic of net neutrality as the initial comment period on whether the Federal Communications Commission should reverse the legal underpinning for prohibiting paid content prioritization drew to a close.

According to law360.com, the docket, which officially opened at the end of April, garnered about 8.4 million responses, 3.3 million of which were posted in the last month alone, FCC records show. Reply comments are due by Aug. 16, according to commission documents.

At its May meeting, the FCC voted to open an official comment period on a proposal that would reverse the classification of broadband providers as common carriers as defined by Title II of the Communications Act, the legal footing for the commission’s 2015 net neutrality rules.

Those rules require internet service providers to treat all content the same, without speeding up or slowing down access to it. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has floated removing Title II classification and opting to have service providers voluntarily commit to treating content equally. He has said that deregulation would speed up innovation and investment.

In its Monday comment to the FCC, Maryland-based think tank The Free State Foundation agreed with Pai’s view, saying that “growing evidence points to declines in investment in broadband infrastructure as a result of direct and indirect regulatory costs and uncertainty created by [the] Title II Order.”

AT&T Inc. said on Monday in its own comment that it supports protections for an “open internet,” just not under the Title II scheme, which it said presents “regulatory baggage.”

A group of 17 small and mid-size manufacturers of network components such as semiconductors, modems and routers similarly told the FCC that the industry will benefit from the lifting of regulations, reducing indirect costs associated with expanding infrastructure.

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