Federal Communications CommissionFCC 14-61
1.The Internet is America’s most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. As a “general purpose technology,” the Internet has been, and remains to date, the preeminent 21st century engine for innovation and the economic and social benefits that follow.These benefits flow, in large part, from the open, end-to-end architecture of the Internet, which is characterized by low barriers to entry for developers of new content, applications, services, and devices and a consumer-demand-driven marketplace for their products.As the Commission explained in its 2010
Open Internet Order
, the Internet’s open architecture allows innovators and consumers at the edges of the network “to createand determine the success or failure of content, applications, services and devices,” without requiring permission from the broadband provider to reach end users.
As an open platform, it fosters diversity and it enables people to build communities.2.We start with a fundamental question: What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open? This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice), and the comment process that follows, will turn on this fundamental question. 3.Today, there are no legallyenforceable rules by which the Commission can stop broadband providers from limiting Internet openness. This Noticebegins the process of closing that gap, by proposing to reinstitute the no-blocking rule adopted in 2010 and creating a new rule that would bar commercially unreasonable actions from threatening Internet openness (as well as enhancing the transparency rule that is currently in effect). 4.The goal of this proceeding is to find the best approach to protecting and promoting Internet openness. Per the blueprint offered by the D.C. Circuit in its decision in
Verizon v. FCC
, the Commission proposes to rely on section 706 of theTelecommunications Act of 1996
At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal authority. This Notice seeks comment on the benefits of both section 706 and Title II, including the benefits of one approach over the other. Under all available sources of legal authority (including also Title III for mobile services), the Commission seeks comment on the best ways to define, prevent and punish the practices that threaten an open Internet. We emphasize in this Notice that the Commission recognizes that both section 706 and Title II are viable solutions and seek comment on their potential use. 5.It is important to always remember that the Internet is a collection of networks, not a single network.And that means that each broadband provider can either add to the benefits that the Internet delivers to Americans—by maintaining Internet openness and by extending the reach of broadband networks—or it can threaten those benefits—by restricting its customers from the Internet and preventing edge providers from reaching consumers over robust, fast and continuously improving networks. This is a real threat, not merely a hypothetical concern. 6.In its 2010
, the Commission found that providers of broadband Internet access service had three types of incentives to limit Internet openness. First, broadband providers may have economic incentives to block or disadvantage a particular edge provider or class of edge
Preserving the Open Internet
, GN Docket No. 09-191, WC Docket No. 07-52, Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 17905, 17910, para. 13 (2010) (
Open Internet Order
aff’d in part
vacated and remanded in part sub nom.Verizon v. FCC
, 740 F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 2014). Among other examples, the Commission cited Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who—25 years ago—needed neither permission nor approvals from network operators to invent the World Wide Web using existing Internet layer and transport protocols.
Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, § 706, 110 Stat. 56, 153 (1996) (
), as amended in relevant part by the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), Pub. L. No. 110-385, 122 Stat. 4096 (2008), is now codified in Title 47, Chapter 12 of the United States Code.
47 U.S.C. § 1301