Previous net neutrality rules adopted in 2015 classified broadband service under public utility rules and prevented Internet service providers from blocking websites, throttling traffic or charging more for faster access to certain services. . According to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the commission is expected to hold an initial vote on reinstating these rules next month during a meeting on October 19.
“Net neutrality is one of the most discussed topics in telecommunications policy,” Rosenworcel he said in a speech announcing the decision at the National Press Club today, although he said the debate often generated “more heat than light.” Rosenworcel condemned the Trump-era FCC’s decision to roll back the 2015 rules, particularly in light of the access challenges highlighted by the pandemic. “Broadband is essential infrastructure for modern life. Internet access is now access to everything.”
The announcement comes after Democrats took majority control of the FCC on Monday after Anna Gomez was sworn in as commissioner. The commission had previously split 2-2 along partisan lines since President Joe Biden took office. Biden signed an executive order in July 2021 that contained several provisions related to net neutrality, encouraging the FCC to restore Barack Obama-era rules in those areas.
The new proposal aims to closely follow the 2015 rules, which a fact sheet from the Rosenworcel office referred to as “successful.” In the years since its repeal, net neutrality has largely been a state-by-state issue, with individual states like California passing piecemeal rules in the absence of a federal law.
Even if the initial vote passes as expected, restoring net neutrality legislation will take some time. There will be votes, comments and notices afterward, and the process could be delayed by lawsuits if any of the affected broadband providers want to challenge the decision. Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have previously argued against net neutrality rules, saying they do not (and will not) engage in the types of business practices the legislation is designed to prevent.