We typically try to remain neutral on topics at the American Genius to provide unbiased news for you. However, we’re not neutral about net neutrality.
Everyone should retain equal access to the internet, regardless of what they pay. It’s a valuable resource that shouldn’t be limited by broadband companies and other businesses. Unfortunately, FCC Chariman Ajit Pai and companies like Comcast, AT&T, USTelecom, and the NCTA want to roll back existing rules to “restore freedom.”
In 2015, the FCC implemented the Open Internet Rule, protecting net neutrality. This gave the FCC legal authority to implement rules regarding what Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can do with internet traffic. It also reclassified ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act, established in 1934.
Title II states common carriers cannot “make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.”
Basically, ISPs can’t decide to implement an internet “fast lane” for people who pay more.
The Open Internet Rule further prohibits ISPs from blocking access to legal content/services, impairing lawful internet traffic based on services, or favoring any internet traffic in exchange for anything. Opponents of net neutrality claim this hurts investment and the broadband industry.
Pai wants to do what??!
Last week, Pai outlined his new proposal for overhauling net neutrality. In his speech, Pai claimed that between 2014 and 2016, the nation’s 12 largest ISPs domestic broadband capital expenditures decreased by 5.6 percent, or $3.6 billion. He noted this decline happened during the first two years of the “Title II era.”
Except it didn’t.
The new net neutrality laws didn’t come into effect until February 2015, meaning half of the period Pai referred to wasn’t really part of this law change. Plus, when Consumerist looked into publicly available numbers to investigate the drop, they didn’t find evidence supporting Pai’s claim.
In fact, in 2016 and 2017, many publicly-traded ISPs reported high levels of investment and growth.
For example, Comcast’s Q1 earnings report for 2017 shows a 10 percent increase in revenue from its broadband service, and an additional 397,000 residential customers.
ISPs who support scrapping net neutrality and Title II reversal have been very nonspecific about how their companies would benefit from a change.
Instead, vague lines about restrictions continue to be repeated, spreading misleading information.
Stay tuned to find out about further developments in the battle for net neutrality. In the meantime, stay vigilant and keep fact checking whenever possible.