But first, they note that the U.S. FCC, charged with regulating communications, has “limited regulatory authority unless broadband is considered a ‘common carrier’ under the Federal Telecommunications Act.” 1996.”
The FCC under President Barack Obama decided to reclassify broadband so that it can regulate broadband companies; the FCC under President Donald Trump reversed the change. Its dismayed advocates warned the world that without protections in place, the Internet would be broken. You’ll never guess what happened next: nothing. Or at least, almost nothing. The internet was not interrupted and for the most part internet providers did not crash or slow down.
Regardless, the current FCC, chaired by Jessica Rosenworcel, has just moved reclassify broadband. What’s interesting is that his strongest argument has little to do with net neutrality, but with some of the other benefits the country could see from a federal watchdog monitoring the sector broadband… Broadband is an essential service. …Yet there is not a single government agency with sufficient authority to oversee this vital tool. Asserting federal authority over broadband would regulate any blocking, throttling, or anti-competitive prioritization of paid traffic they might engage in. But it could also help ensure the safety and security of U.S. networks.
The FCC has, for national security reasons, withdrawn permission for companies affiliated with adversary states, such as China’s Huawei, to participate in US telecommunications markets. The agency can do this for telephone operators. But this can’t do it for broadband, because it’s not allowed. Or think about public safety during a crisis. The FCC does not have the ability to access the data it needs to know when and where broadband outages are occurring – much less the ability to do anything about those outages if they are identified. Likewise, it cannot impose network resilience requirements to prevent these outages from occurring in the first place, such as during a natural disaster or cyberattack.
The agency has enough power to control the types of services that are becoming less relevant to American life, like landlines, and little power to control those that are becoming more important every day.
The FCC acknowledges that this power would also allow it to prohibit the “limiting” of content. But the Post editorial also argues that here in 2023, it’s “it is unlikely to have a major effect on the broadband industry in both directions…Substantial consequences have become less likely as high-speed bandwidth has become less limited.