OTI Reiterates Support for Strong Network Neutrality Rules that Protect all Internet Users Across all Platforms

Press Release
Sept. 16, 2014

Washington, DC — Yesterday, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) submitted extensive reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on net neutrality. The filing reiterated OTI’s earlier conclusions in the docket: that the FCC must implement strong network neutrality rules, grounded in Title II authority of the Telecommunications Act, that apply to all Internet users, regardless of whether they are access the Internet over a fixed or wireless connection. The reply comments also revealed the preliminary findings of data collected using the Measurement Lab (M-Lab) platform, which appear to confirm that the disputes among companies like Netflix, Level 3, and Cogent and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have led to significant and sustained degradation of service for Internet users across the country. OTI’s Senior Policy Counsel, Sarah Morris, will serve on an FCC panel this afternoon to discuss the need for strong rules that are implemented with parity across all Internet platforms.

The following can be attributed to Sarah Morris, Senior Policy Counsel, the Open Technology Institute at New America:

“Support for robust and enforceable network neutrality rules has never been stronger. In our filing with the FCC yesterday, OTI reiterates what advocates, academics, and millions of Americans have already said: to fully protect consumers from harmful discrimination, blocking of content, and a regime of fees for prioritized or enhanced service, the FCC should reclassify broadband as a Title II service under the Telecommunications Act. Title II is not a radical shift in policy, but rather a sound legal basis for strong network neutrality rules that are grounded in fundamental principles that have guided communications policy for over a century. It is certainly not “calamitous” or “devastating,” as carriers have claimed, and it would not lead to regulatory overreach. Indeed, as OTI explains, it is actually rules implemented under Section 706 that provide the greatest risk for expansive regulation by the FCC.

“In addition, the preliminary findings of the M-Lab data reveal a significant problem - millions of Internet subscribers suffered from significant and sustained degradation of service from the largest providers for several months, conforming to a period of time when Netflix was engaged in a public dispute with several of these ISPs over access the ISP’s subscribers. The FCC must step in, investigate this issue fully, and protect against any harms that consumers experience as a result of access fee disputes.

“But getting the rules right is only the first step. The FCC created separate regulatory frameworks for wired and wireless Internet access in its 2010 Open Internet Order. These distinct sets of rules are no longer workable in a world where the platforms over which we access the Internet are largely converging, and where some populations — particularly low-income and rural populations — increasingly rely on wireless access as their primary mode of access to the Internet. The FCC cannot allow an “Open Internet Divide” to further the growing digital divide. Preventing that from happening requires instituting a common regime for all Internet platforms that accommodates any technical distinctions among those platforms through reasonable network management.”

Read the OTI’s full filing to the FCC here.