The Internet was originally built in the USA with a combination of federal government, private and university resources on a foundation of American innovation, openness and nondiscrimination.  To sustain its social and economic benefits, the Internet must remain open and free of commercial or government gatekeepers.  In 2002-05 the FCC deregulated the broadband Internet access services of cable TV and telephone companies by categorizing them as “information services” rather than telecommunications.

The consumer protections embodied in the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement, meant to substitute for regulation, proved unenforceable under a federal court decision involving Comcast, so in late 2010, the FCC after a lengthy proceeding involving voluminous input from diverse stakeholders, adopted the first open Internet rules which require broadband access providers (IAPs) (1) to clearly disclose all terms of services and network management practices that could affect quality of service; (2) to refrain from blocking any lawful content or applications; (3) not to unreasonably discriminate against any Internet traffic.  The FCC did not apply common carrier telecommunications regulation under Title II of the Communications Act, which it has the authority to do.  Verizon has challenged the rules in court, and oral arguments will take place in early 2013.  A large group of consumer advocates, state regulators and Internet industry groups including CCIA support the FCC rules before the court.  The largest Internet access providers argue that open Internet access rules are a government takeover of the Internet itself, but many other diverse parties argue they offer the absolute minimum protection necessary for households and small businesses against market power abuses by duopoly IAPs.

If the FCC open Internet rules are upheld by the Court, the agency will begin in earnest to enforce them though investigation of complaints such as the pending case involving AT&T’s FaceTime mobile application.   Another area ripe for FCC consideration is IAPs’ use of monthly data caps to favor their own affiliated video programming or cloud services, by making such services exempt from the volume restrictions and higher pricing tiers, while content from the public Internet will not be exempt.

If the FCC rules are struck down by the Court, various flavors of controversy will arise, ranging from renewed FCC consideration of its “third way” or “Title II lite” proposal to a full scale IAP Congressional lobbying campaign to re-write the Telecom Act of 1996 which they claim is antiquated.   CCIA supports the Telecom Act of 1996, which contains pro-competitive interconnection and access measures that should still apply to the critical underlying physical telecommunications network infrastructure upon which the Internet was built and still depends, even as technology has advanced and voice, data and video transmissions are now digital, and circuit switching is replaced with Internet protocol (IP) for everything online.

Most Recent Statements&Findings:

A British Recipe for Open Internet Access: Separation of Monopoly Local Networks… and Competition for Bloody Everything Else

UK regulators at Ofcom decided about a decade ago to impose “functional separation” on its dominant telecom provider, BT, in order to obtain equivalent prices, terms and conditions for competing telephone Internet providers that must buy local connectivity from the legacy giant. The UK model for competition has Openreach as the source for wholesale local…

Read more

An Open Internet Should Never Be Taken for Granted

The Internet is essential infrastructure for most of today’s American businesses, and for citizens’ civic engagement, education, and daily life.  As a group of enlightened Senators said yesterday “it carries our most important information and our greatest ideas.”  The Internet was launched and commercialized on common carrier networks and has thrived within a framework of…

Read more

To Protect Open Internet FCC Must Correct Classification Mistake

Washington – The Computer & Communications Industry Association filed detailed comments with the FCC today articulating the best legal and policy framework to meaningfully protect Americans’ access to an innovative and open Internet. CCIA said no-blocking and no-discrimination rules must be adopted to preserve the Open Internet. The tech trade association recommended that the FCC rely…

Read more

Congress, FCC To Consider Halting Paid Prioritization of Internet Traffic Delivery To Preserve Open Internet

Washington – Important issues related to Internet interconnection practices and policies have arisen anew in both Congress and the FCC. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy offered legislation Tuesday aimed at halting a growing practice that has Open Internet advocates concerned — paid prioritization of Internet traffic delivery. The legislation would…

Read more

CCIA Sends Open Internet Letter to FCC

Washington – The Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a letter to the FCC and Chairman Wheeler that praises their long-standing commitment to protecting the open Internet and asking them not to propose new rules that would allow discriminatory practices by phone and cable Internet access providers. In the letter CCIA said altering the framework that has historically prevented discrimination…

Read more