Prepared Remarks of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: "A Time to Look Forward: Protecting What Americans Now Enjoy"

We are at a fork in that road. One path leads forward. The other leads back to re-litigating solutions that are demonstrably working. Looking forward is an era of Internet service providers operating responsibly at both the edge and the core network under light touch regulation accompanied by a referee on the field to throw the flag when necessary. Looking backward takes away existing protections and throws into question ISP expansion into edge activities...

If something is deserving of being called net neutrality, it must be Comprehensive, Continuing and Consistent:

  • Comprehensive: Limiting the definition of Net Neutrality to blocking, throttling and paid prioritization is an empty promise if it is not accompanied by the authority to comprehensively protect against the power of broadband gatekeepers, not just some of their conduct.
  • Continuing: We do not know how the Internet will evolve and ISPs will take advantage of new technology. A general conduct rule – which I've analogized to a referee on the field with the ability to throw a flag – captures conduct whether is it new or old, blatant or nuanced with ongoing regulatory oversight and the ability to act where necessary to prevent anti-consumer and anti-competitive practices.
  • Consistent: By this, I mean a consistent standard so that everyone - whether an ISP, a consumer, or an edge provider - knows the yardstick that will measure fairness. Since the time of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 there has been a consistent standard for judging carriers’ practices: are those practices just, reasonable, and not unreasonably discriminatory? These concepts have 130 years of jurisprudence behind them, and they have evolved to effectively address the incentives that network operators may otherwise have to exploit their position to the detriment of consumers or competition.

Passing legislation or adopting regulations without these key provisions and calling it net neutrality would be false advertising....

The activities of the last three-plus years – from ERate, to Lifeline, to rural broadband; from spectrum availability to 5G; from cyber protection to privacy and an open Internet – are the law of the land. We must not forget that the proposals being floated to change what has been done would take away benefits Americans now enjoy. It is time to keep moving forward. This is not the time to retreat and take things away.

Prepared Remarks of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: "A Time to Look Forward: Protecting What Americans Now Enjoy" Wheeler: Keep net neutrality rules (The Hill) FCC’s Wheeler Makes Impassioned Plea for Title II (B&C) FCC chairman warns next administration: Don't go backward (CNN)