After more than a decade of trying to protect an open internet, the FCC has finally started making the right moves. As FCC chairman Tom Wheeler announced, the commission will propose regulating internet providers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, and establishing strong net neutrality protections. It's a very important victory for net neutrality advocates — but the war for an open internet isn't over yet.
Aug 31, 2017
After months of debate, protests, and disruptions, the FCC’s comment period on its proposal to kill net neutrality is now over. The commission stopped accepting comments at midnight Eastern time last night, closing out with nearly 22 million total replies — setting an immense new record. The FCC’s previous comment record was just 3.7 million, set during the last net neutrality proceeding.Read Article >
But the process of receiving all those comments was far from smooth this time around. The FCC’s website is fairly confusing. It’s also, apparently, susceptible to spam and other attacks, which we saw at multiple points across the past four months.
Mar 1, 2016
A report released by Senate Republicans claims that the White House made a significant effort to influence the FCC and steer chairman Tom Wheeler to pass net neutrality rules that President Obama wanted. The inquiry was conducted by the majority on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and concludes that the FCC would not have chosen to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act if the president had not supported it. Republicans in Congress have been working for years to cripple the FCC's authority, and today's report could set off a new fight over who ultimately controls the agency.Read Article >
The FCC's two Republican commissioners immediately piled on to the report's conclusions after voicing strong objections throughout last year's process. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said today that "the facts and process were thrown overboard in order to capitulate to the improper influence of the administration." And Commissioner Ajit Pai called the report a "devastating portrait of the process that led to the adoption of President Obama's plan to regulate the internet."
Dec 6, 2015
On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was back in court to defend net neutrality from cable, telecom, and wireless trade groups that are seeking to see the regulations overturned. Those industries sued the FCC shortly after the commission voted to regulate internet providers like a utility in February. Among other things, that landmark FCC vote let the regulator require that internet providers — including wireless services — treat all legal internet traffic equally.Read Article >
Three hours of oral arguments for the case were held in front of a three-judge panel at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals — the same one that has twice before struck down net neutrality regulations. But this time, things might turn out differently. When this court last struck down net neutrality rules early last year, the case hinged largely on whether or not the FCC had the authority to regulate internet providers in such a way without classifying them as a Title II utility. With the commission's vote in February, that is no longer a problem: the FCC has officially reclassified internet services as telecommunications under Title II of the Communications Act.
Jun 12, 2015
Net neutrality rules are once again in place in the US, giving the Federal Communications Commission authority to stop internet providers from unfairly degrading your service. The battle for net neutrality isn't over, but this still marks an important milestone. The commission originally implemented net neutrality rules in 2010, but they were overturned in court last January. After a lengthy period of public comments, the commission passed a new set of rules that appear to stand on stronger legal backing. The rules passed in late February, but they're only now going into effect.Read Article >
Though the rules are now active, there aren't about to be major changes to the internet. In fact, these rules are largely meant to preserve the status quo. They prevent internet providers from blocking access to apps and websites, from throttling traffic speeds, and from selling fast lanes. The rules apply to mobile internet and traditional wired connections, and they also reclassify internet providers' legal standing in a way that will give the FCC more authority to regulate them. In short, if the commission thinks that an internet provider is unreasonably interfering with your ability to access or choose what you do online, it can now stop them.
Mar 23, 2015
The first lawsuits against the FCC's new net neutrality rules have come in, according to The Washington Post. The Post writes that two parties — industry group USTelecom and regional service provider Alamo Broadband — have respectively filed suit in Washington and New Orleans. USTelecom thinks that the rules, which were officially released on March 12th, are not "legally sustainable," and that the FCC should abandon its decision to regulate broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. "We do not block or throttle traffic, and FCC rules prohibiting blocking or throttling will not be the focus of our appeal," said senior vice president Jon Banks in a statement. Alamo believes it's suffering harm under the new requirements, which ban internet service providers from blocking, discriminating against, or speeding up internet traffic from specific sources.Read Article >
The FCC quickly confirmed these lawsuits. In a statement given to The Verge, a spokesperson for the FCC said: "The Commission was served today with two challenges to the Open Internet Order. We believe that the petitions for review filed today are premature and subject to dismissal."
Mar 12, 2015
The FCC has released the full text of its new Open Internet order — the set of rules that are meant to protect net neutrality. Though the rules passed last month, the full text of the order hasn't been available until now. Even ahead of the vote, only those in the commission were able to see its actual text. That's not unusual, but considering the significance of this particular vote, a lot of noise was made by dissenting commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly about getting it released to the public. That's finally happened, though it occurred on the commission's normal timeline.Read Article >
One of the big questions this document answers is which Title II regulations the commission won't be applying to internet service. It turns out to be quite a lot: more than 700 rules aren't going to be applied. "This includes no unbundling of last-mile facilities, no tariffing, no rate regulation, and no cost accounting rules, which results in a carefully tailored application of only those Title II provisions found to directly further the public interest in an open internet and more, better, and open broadband," the order says. The idea that this proposal is a so-called "light touch" approach to regulation has been touted again and again, basically as a way to quell concerns from those who oppose regulation. Of course, it hasn't exactly done that, and we're still seeing plenty of complaints from the internet providers that are now having their services classified under Title II.
Feb 26, 2015
Today's FCC decision to protect the internet with Title II regulation is a big win for the internet and net neutrality advocates — and the start of a big fight for both sides of the issue. But here's a pretty big question, what is net neutrality?Read Article >
The answer isn't always so clear, and depending on where you read about today's news first, your interpretation of the phrase might vary a bit. That isn't to say anyone is flat-out wrong, but that summarizing an abstract concept can be open to various interpretations (we're partial our own interpretation, of course). Yes, there are already hundreds of standalone "what is net neutrality?" explainers, and there will assuredly be hundreds more. But for those who read only one news item on today's FCC decision — from just one news source — here's what they probably think it means:
Feb 26, 2015
Net neutrality has won at the FCC. In a 3-to-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission today established a new Open Internet Order that implements strict net neutrality rules, including prohibitions on site and app blocking, speed throttling, and paid fast lanes.Read Article >
Critically, the order also reclassifies internet providers' offerings as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act. Though this is likely to provoke a challenge in court, Title II gives the commission the tools it needs to enforce these strict rules.
Feb 26, 2015
Before it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it's just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee — both cities that've established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today's ruling affects only those two specific cases.Read Article >
Feb 25, 2015
Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton today came out in support of the FCC's proposal to reclassify broadband as a utility — the cornerstone of its plan to put stronger net neutrality rules into effect. In a conversation today with Kara Swisher from Recode, Clinton said she agreed with classifying internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act but also pointed out that there was more that could be done.Read Article >
"I think that for the FCC to do what they want to do — to try to create net neutrality as the norm — they have to have a hook to hang it on," Clinton said to Swisher. "So, they're hanging it on Title II." When asked whether she agreed with that "hook," Clinton replied that "it's the only one the've got." She went on to say that "I think that if there were another hook, it would come out of a modern 21st century telecom act. And that hasn't happened, and it's not likely to happen."
Feb 23, 2015
Days before the FCC's net neutrality vote, commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly are making a last-ditch effort to delay it. Today, the pair asked for chair Tom Wheeler to release his full proposal — currently available only to FCC staff — and wait at least 30 days for public comments to come in. That would mean tabling "Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet," which is currently set for a vote on February 26th. "With the future of the entire Internet at stake, it is imperative that the FCC get this right," write Pai and O'Rielly. "And to do that, we must live up to the highest standards of transparency."Read Article >
To date, Wheeler has released a four-page fact sheet about his proposal, which would reclassify broadband internet under stricter and more utility-like laws. It's a dramatic and long-sought legal change, and like previous net neutrality votes, it's split the FCC down party lines. That's almost certainly going to tip the vote in Wheeler's favor: more liberal commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn have supported him in the past, while the conservative-leaning Pai and O'Rielly oppose virtually any form of net neutrality.
Feb 20, 2015
T-Mobile isn't buying into dire warnings about net neutrality. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, company COO Mike Sievert said that FCC chair Tom Wheeler's plan to reclassify broadband under stricter Title II regulation wouldn't pose a significant threat. "There is nothing in there that gives us deep concern about our ability to continue executing our strategy," said Sievert, though the Journal also said he believed reclassification was not "the most desirable approach."Read Article >
This puts T-Mobile's position near that of Sprint, which said last week that Wheeler's proposal could actually help its customers, and was unlikely to stop investment in telecommunications companies. It certainly places it far from AT&T — which said reclassification would lead to industry lawsuits — and Verizon, which castigated Wheeler's plan earlier this month. But it's hardly an endorsement of Wheeler's plan.
Feb 10, 2015
Last week, FCC chair Tom Wheeler released a fact sheet for his new net neutrality plan, and it was a dramatic one. Wheeler intends to reclassify broadband as a more utility-like service, something that would allow him to implement net neutrality rules banning paid prioritization, or unreasonable interconnection fees on the internet backbone. Today, fellow commissioner Ajit Pai attacked that proposal in a press conference, accusing Wheeler of hiding its true effect and calling for him to release the entire proposal.Read Article >
Feb 6, 2015
Have you ever wondered what it was like growing up in a post-Communist country in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall? Well, I’ll tell you, it was very American. Looking back on my childhood in Bulgaria during the ‘90s, I find countless cultural touchpoints to the experience of the average American kid at that time. I drank Fanta, read DuckTales, watched the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, wanted to be like Mike, and had a massive crush on Jennifer Love Hewitt. As my country searched for a new identity and direction, it found a willing and active role model in the United States, the world’s biggest political and cultural exporter.Read Article >
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Today was huge for net neutrality: after a year of fighting for strong new rules, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would give advocates pretty much everything that they wanted — in some cases, even more. Ben Popper and I sat down to chat about the day's news, from what you'll find in the new proposal to what comes next. Consider this your quick catchup if you're just seeing the news.
Feb 4, 2015
Of the many enormous implications that the FCC's Title II reclassification of the internet could have, perhaps none is bigger or more jarring to the telecom industry than the news that mobile internet will be regulated for the first time with the same level of consumer protection as your wired telephone for the first time.Read Article >
Make no mistake, the effects of this change are far from theoretical — there could be very real modifications to your phone service that you'll notice, assuming the rules go through and aren't litigated away through years of court battles that are inevitably to come. Let's take a look at some of the features and arbitrary limitations your wireless carrier puts on you that could change or go away altogether under a Title II-driven regime.
Back in March of 2014, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote a blog post accusing the major internet service providers of imposing unfair tolls on companies, like his, that were sending large volumes of traffic to their customers. He argued that companies like Comcast and AT&T were creating an artificial bottleneck that was degrading Netflix service, causing customers' video to bugger. Hastings called on the FCC to expand the definition of net neutrality to cover this little-known world of "interconnection" between networks.Read Article >
Feb 4, 2015
This is going to be short since I'm on a train — headed to DC, of all places — but today's momentous net neutrality news deserves a moment to state the obvious: we won. I asked my friend Julie Samuels from Engine Advocacy for a comment, and all she said was "this is fucking awesome."Read Article >
It was almost exactly a year ago that I was so dismayed at the state of the internet, the arrogance of the companies that operate it, and the government's seeming hesitation to regulate in the face of stagnant competition that I wrote The Internet is Fucked. That headline attracted attention; it's among the most-read things I've ever written.
Feb 4, 2015
With FCC chairman Tom Wheeler now firmly planted behind the idea of classifying internet providers under Title II, we're expecting a massive reaction to his new plan for preserving net neutrality. ISPs have been arguing against the Title II approach for months, warning it could risk jobs and stifle investment (and innovation) in broadband. But the chorus of those supporting Wheeler and an open, fair-to-all internet has been much more vocal — and only grown louder in recent days.Read Article >
In pursing Wheeler's outlined path, the FCC is setting itself up for major legal tangles with mega-corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Those companies will no doubt deliver strongly worded responses to the FCC's plan. But the commission will also receive plenty of praise for standing in the corner of net neutrality advocates. Gathered here are the responses to the FCC's new framework for net neutrality; we'll be updating the article as more come in.
In an editorial published earlier today, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler laid out the broad strokes of the agency's upcoming proposal for new Open Internet rules. The biggest change is one net neutrality advocates have been pushing for and internet providers have been lambasting for the past several months. Broadband internet will be reclassified under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.Read Article >
Wheeler argues this is the best way to ensure the agency can ban paid prioritization of traffic and the blocking or throttling of data from lawful sites. But supporters and opponents of this move agree that the issue is far from settled and is likely to quickly end up in court.
Feb 4, 2015
The Federal Communications Commission has proposed bringing full net neutrality rules to wireless carriers for the first time. As with wired broadband, the commission plans to use Title II regulations to ban paid prioritization as well as the blocking and throttling of legal websites, apps, services, and other data.Read Article >
This is a huge change. Under the 2010 Open Internet Order, wireless providers were prohibited from blocking legal websites as well as apps that competed with their own voice and video products, which still gave them a lot of space to block or limit other content. The commission's reasoning at the time was that wireless networks were still developing and needed lighter rules to ensure continued growth, but these networks have become far more robust in the years since. Wheeler also argues that his proposal continues to incentivize the deployment of new networks — both wired and wireless — by removing burdensome elements of Title II.
Feb 4, 2015
Today, in a statement given to Wired, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler revealed his plan to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. It's a striking victory for net neutrality advocates who have been fighting for years to solidify internet protections using Title II authority — and it's the first time the FCC has shown enough backbone to draw a line in the sand against companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, who are sure to fight viciously in courts to reverse this action.Read Article >
"I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC," Wheeler wrote. "These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."
Feb 2, 2015
After years of dithering, manipulative scheming from mega telcos, bad proposals begetting bad proposals, months of F-bombs and death threats, and partisan warfare in Congress, it appears this will be the week we've all been waiting for: the week we find out exactly how the FCC will propose to regulate the internet like a utility.Read Article >
The New York Times says utility-style regulation is "widely expected," and that the proposal will leak sometime this week. (We agree.) The Wall Street Journal's sources say it's happening. CNBC says it's happening. Expect a few more outlets to squeeze their sources to corroborate the rumor as we wait for the proposal to reach sunlight, hopefully around Thursday when it circulates to FCC commissioners and someone "accidentally" leaves a copy near a reporter at a bar on K Street.