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:

The FCC Must Stay Strong on Open Infrastructure for Both Wired and Wireless Mobile Internet Access

As the FCC approaches another leadership transition, CCIA reiterates its commitment to the Obama Administration’s original objectives for enlightened telecommunications policy in the digital age.  As the President took office in January of 2009,  CCIA wrote:  “Never before has there been a national leader who better understood the importance of free speech and the power…

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CCIA Endorses International Effort Seeking Better Standards Setting

Geneva – A need for better efficiency in global standards has led five global organizations to launch an initiative supporting the modern paradigm for global open standards. With their initiative “Open-Stand.org,” groups including founders IEEE, Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Society and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have established a jointly developed set…

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Internet, innovation at the centre of major WTO event

The WTO public forum is perhaps the most visible result of the WTO’s revised public relations strategy following its tumultuous 1999 Ministerial Conference in Seattle. In recent years, it has become a major event in the international trade agenda as it transformed from a somewhat academic public outreach exercise to a well-attended ‘marketplace of ideas’ where industry, civil society and Governments discuss trade challenges in an open and constructive environment.

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CCIA Welcomes European Commission’s Plan For Telecom Market Reforms

Brussels – The European Commission has proposed its long-awaited telecommunications reforms Wednesday evening, designed to bring simpler rules for telecom companies offering service throughout Europe and giving consumers more rights to reach the platforms and content of their choice on the Internet. The Computer & Communications Industry Association today praised the proposal as it creates…

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