Senate Votes to Overturn Net Neutrality Repeal

The U.S. Senate May 16 voted to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of so-called net neutrality provisions enacted under President Obama.

The 52-47 vote spearheaded by senate Democrats and three Republicans would use the Congressional Review Act to essentially veto the FCC’s 3-2 vote last December to deregulate the broadband industry that was set to go into effect in June.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined Democrats in the resolution.

Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, applauded the move. “Net Neutrality aligns with Redbox’s pro-consumer position of providing a multitude of viewing options across physical and digital formats,” he said.

Richard Siklos, VP, corporate communications at Netflix, also expressed his support for the Senate move, telling Media Play News, “We are supporting the effort through the Internet Association.”

Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman issued the following statement on the passage of the CRA to restore net neutrality rules for consumers:

“The Internet industry commends the Senate for its work to reinstate net neutrality rules through the CRA and urges the House of Representatives to work to protect people’s access to a free and open internet. Guaranteed access to the entire internet is not a partisan issue. An overwhelming majority of Americans support net neutrality protections that ban blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. It is time for Congress to pass strong, enforceable net neutrality protections—through the CRA or bipartisan legislation—that provide consumers the protections they deserve.”

The resolution must now go to the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 235-193 seat majority — and are not as pro-net neutrality.

Should it pass the House and gain President Trump’s signature (no small task), Internet Service Providers on cable, satellite and telco would again be subject to regulation as a utility, which was used as a framework to establish rules barring blocking, throttling and paid priority for media content delivered over the Web.

“Net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who spearheaded the agency’s repeal of net neutrality, said it was disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a “narrow margin.”

“But ultimately, I’m confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail,” Pai said in a statement.

 

Cable Trade Group Enters Legal Defense of FCC’s Net Neutrality Pushback

The American Cable Association has entered the legal defense of the Federal Communications Commission’s ruling to roll back Internet regulatory provisions, also known as Net Neutrality.

The ACA March 16 filed a motion to intervene in the case with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

The court was selected by lottery to hear the case challenging the FCC’s ruling last December to reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as information service providers. That action – restoring lighter regulatory oversight in a 3-2 vote along political lines – overturned the prior FCC’s 2015 ruling that classified ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

In the motion, the ACA said it meets the requirements for intervention as a trade association of small and medium-sized cable companies. Many of ACA’s members provide broadband Internet access service, and thus are “directly affected” by the FCC’s declaratory ruling.

ACA member companies, which include not only traditional cable operators but also municipally owned systems and electric co-ops, pass over 18 million homes mostly in rural areas and small cities and provide a wide range of services, including video, voice, high-speed Internet, and dedicated fiber-optic connections to more than 7 million subscribers.

The ACA claims that despite assertions to the contrary by advocates of Net Neutrality, smaller ISPs represented by ACA have provided their customers with unrestricted access to Internet content on a consistent basis. It says tougher regulation hampers investment.

“The unwarranted common carrier burdens associated with Title II made these ISPs reluctant to [expand] their broadband networks and explore offering innovative services,” said the ACA.

The trade group contends the FCC’s move to rollback Net Neutrality guidelines would benefit the entire Internet economy, especially consumers. Net Neutrality advocates claim the opposite.