Reactions to FCC Net Neutrality Remand Order

On Oct 27, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve an Order on Remand that would reaffirm the agency’s 2017 net neutrality repeal. The vote is a response to a 2019 remand by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Mozilla v. FCC ordering the agency to address how its net neutrality repeal could harm public safety, pole attachments, and even the Lifeline program. 

House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA): “Chairman Pai is at it again, pushing his anti-consumer agenda – this time on the eve of an historic election.  Americans deserve strong Net Neutrality protections, but this FCC is rushing ahead of November 3rd to further cement its efforts to deprive Americans of these critical protections.  At a time when internet connectivity is especially critical for students, parents, first responders, low-income and rural Americans, the FCC should be protecting American families, not undermining them.  Time and again, this FCC has put industry interests before those of consumers, and its actions this week are no exception.”

Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate Gigi Sohn: “Today, the Trump FCC doubles down on the complete abdication of its responsibility to protect public safety, promote competition and make broadband available to all Americans. In its fervent yearning to free the broadband industry of all oversight, the FCC once again relies on an argument that has been proven time and again to be false – that reclassifying broadband as an unregulated information service will result in greater investment in broadband networks, more competition and lower prices. The agency has apparently forgotten that soon after it adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, every major broadband provider announced that it would reduce investment in their networks. And it ignores the plain fact that the broadband market is a series of regional monopolies where prices are among the highest in the world. The FCC says the quiet part out loud when it finds that “we would still reach the same conclusion that we did in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order even if a court were to conclude that the Lifeline Program could not support broadband Internet access service.” In other words, deregulating the broadband industry is more important to this FCC than ensuring that low income Americans have broadband. This is a remarkable admission at a time when Americans can’t work, go to school, visit a doctor or safely socially distance without a broadband connection.”

Michael Copps, Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser: “With this decision, the FCC continues to put the interests of a handful of monopoly internet service providers over the needs of the American people. Net Neutrality has always been more than just bright line rules preventing ISPs from discriminating against internet traffic.  It’s about ensuring consumers have adequate protections and affordable and competitive broadband services when going online. The FCC’s failure to consider all aspects of its net neutrality repeal only highlights the need for strong rules that ensure the agency has adequate authority to act as a cop on the beat to protect consumers in an uncompetitive broadband marketplace. This decision also continues a troubling pattern of the FCC turning a blind eye to Court decisions. First, the FCC ignored the Third Circuit’s media ownership decision directing the agency to examine the impact changing its media ownership rules would have on ownership diversity. Now, the FCC is ignoring the DC Circuit’s net neutrality remand, directing the agency to adequately consider what impact repealing net neutrality would have on public safety, the Lifeline program, and pole attachment regulation. How conservative is it to continuously ignore the rule of law? Broadband has never been more critical to our democracy and everyday life than it is now during a global pandemic. But Americans are continuing to suffer the consequences of the FCC’s abdication of authority with so many still struggling to afford connectivity or choose from more than one broadband provider. Without adequate authority, the FCC has weakened its ability to ensure that ISPs maintain robust connections let alone fully address the broadband connectivity needs of all Americans during the pandemic.”

John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge: “This vote represents another step in the Pai FCC’s abandonment of its basic public interest and statutory duty to protect broadband users. With this vote, the FCC has decided that deregulation is more important than protecting public safety communications and promoting and encouraging the deployment of affordable broadband. Ironically, the FCC is now claiming sweeping authority over social media and other online platforms without a legitimate legal basis — after claiming it has no authority to regulate broadband, which clearly falls under the agency’s traditional telecommunications jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the fight to protect net neutrality and promote good broadband policy is not over, and Public Knowledge will continue to engage in that fight.”

Free Press Policy Manager Dana Floberg: "In its remand, the court gave Chairman Pai yet another opportunity to reverse course on his tremendously unpopular and statutorily suspect decisions. Pai and his Republican colleagues voted to scrap the agency’s Title II authority over broadband in the first place, and could and should have corrected that mistake in this order. But like a child caught in a lie, this chairman has instead doubled down. This remand order callously dismisses the valid concerns of public-safety officials, competitive broadband providers and millions of disconnected low-income families who can’t afford to get online. But Pai goes even further, insisting that if the agency’s decisions on these issues harm these constituencies, that harm is justified by the supposed benefits of repealing Title II. Let’s be really clear about this: Chairman Pai has admitted that he would rather deny low-income families support for broadband access through the Lifeline program than give up his ideological quest to stomp out the imaginary harms to industry from Title II. This is his agency’s response to a global pandemic that has exposed the digital divide with brutal clarity as tens of millions of people struggle without adequate broadband access to connect safely to remote learning, jobs and health care. And all for what? Supposed regulatory relief from the alleged burden of Title II — a burden that, contrary to claims from Pai and industry lobbyists, is not real and never actually decreased investment or deployment. In fact, broadband investment increased under Title II, and since Pai’s repeal, it has decreased. Approximately 92 percent of the fiber deployments made during Pai’s chairmanship were actually planned and announced during the last few years of the Obama administration, when Title II was securely in place. Chairman Pai is trading away critical public protections for a bag of magic beans, and a wink and a nod from cable lobbyists. We need public servants who will actually listen to people, consider the data and serve community needs instead of long-debunked ideologies.”

Joshua Stager, senior counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute: “A federal court ruled the FCC was 'unhinged from reality' when it repealed net neutrality in 2017. Sadly, today's vote is even more unhinged. Millions of people are suffering through the pandemic without internet access, and it’s hurting our economy, our schools, and our ability to combat the virus. Yet the Trump Administration chose today to give another gift to the telecom industry while continuing to do nothing to help people stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. The FCC needs to restore net neutrality, expand internet connectivity, and get its priorities straight. We will continue fighting for these urgent priorities.”

Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer: "Ajit Pai’s corruption and cruelty know no limits. We’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic where people are more vulnerable to Big Telecom’s abuses than ever before, and the FCC is voting against Internet freedom once again. They’re ignoring a mountain of evidence and the voices of the overwhelming majority of people from across the political spectrum. And they’re spitting in the face of our nation’s medical professionals and first responders by specifically ignoring a court order to address the serious public safety issues surrounding their repeal of net neutrality.  Meanwhile, Trump’s FCC plans to move forward with a deeply silly and blatantly unconstitutional executive order to blow up Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, opening the floodgates for massive Internet censorship and deputizing Federal bureaucrats as online speech police. To summarize: Ajit Pai doesn’t think the FCC should prevent telecom giants like Verizon from throttling firefighters’ connection or blocking websites, but he does think the agency should dictate what you can and can’t say on the Internet. The leadership of this FCC has no legitimacy. They will go down in history as laughing stocks who attempted to kill Internet freedom, but ultimately failed. Net neutrality is one of the most popular policies in modern history. It’s only a matter of time before it’s the law of the land again."

Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition: "Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), chaired and led by Ajit Pai, moved to further dismantle critical net neutrality protections that are designed to promote a free and open internet where there is equitable access for all demographics, including Latinx. In the path of FCC’s recklessness also lies the Lifeline program, which is increasingly stifled in its reach by the Commission’s abdication of its authority over broadband regulation. NHMC condemns the actions of the Commission, including its continued inaction to address the emergency growth of the digital divide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, over a third of Latinx families did not have access to the internet at home. In the wake of the economic crisis and a virus that disproportionately infects and kills Black, Latinx, and Native American people, we can confidently infer that the digital divide has grown immensely as our children resort to fast-food parking lots to participate in virtual school. The Commission’s move to limit and undermine the Lifeline program, the only program available to help low-income consumers, which include a myriad of senior citizens, afford the communications services they need to participate in today’s digital world. Unfortunately, this is another link in the Trump FCC’s inaction on and enabling of a domino effect of suffering on Latinx and BIPOC communities, starting with the homework gap and cascading to wealth and health disparities. NHMC is at a loss for words as to how this Administration and this Commission can move forward, skew their own data to their narrative, relinquish their statutory mandate to universal service, and leave millions of people in this country to fend for themselves during a global pandemic crisis. NHMC stands today and everyday against the FCC’s and this Administration’s decision to work against equitable access to the internet. As we head into a critical season for change, we will continue to advocate for policies that close instead of widen the digital divide." 

ALA President Julius Jefferson: “Yesterday’s majority vote is the latest example of the FCC shirking its responsibility to ensure broadband equity and Open Internet protections for all. ALA and library workers nationwide will continue our advocacy with Congress, the FCC, and the courts to preserve net neutrality. This fight is not over—not by a long shot.”

Joan Marsh, Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations: “Today, the FCC has addressed the narrow questions identified by the D.C. Circuit as part of its decision last year to uphold the Commission’s 2017 framework to ensure an open internet for consumers. The Court’s decision affirmed internet service providers’ Title I classification and remains a victory for broadband consumers and U.S. broadband infrastructure investment.”

Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS: “Access to broadband has never been more critical and essential. Net neutrality gives confidence to families, first responders and markets that internet, video streaming and cloud driven services they depend on in times of need will not be blocked, throttled or hit with extra fees. Today, Americans have no guarantee that critical communications over broadband will be delivered since net neutrality was repealed, and they are already paying the price. Without oversight, large ISPs have imposed data caps that have raised prices on consumers during the pandemic. Moreover, large ISPs have responded to the net neutrality changes they demanded by firing workers, cutting broadband services and accumulated record levels of debt. Without net neutrality, these large ISPs have a monopoly meal ticket to charge new interconnection fees on start-ups, streaming services and small businesses who are struggling to recover. INCOMPAS’ members continue to deploy new networks to bring an alternative to the large ISPs; however, they cannot access poles and conduit unless they provide a Title II telecommunications or a Title VI cable service. Broadband-only providers should not be forced to offer a service merely to gain deployment rights—especially when consumers are pleading for more broadband competition – as the law demands. INCOMPAS has called for policymakers to extend deployment protections for competitive broadband providers in our Broadband Blueprint paper. Over 80% of Americans, Republicans and Democrats, want net neutrality on the books because they know how critical it is for families and Main Street businesses who are on the path to recovery and can’t afford to run into an ISP road block.”

Reactions to FCC Net Neutrality Remand Order Common Cause Condemns FCC Net Neutrality Remand Order President Trump’s FCC ignores public safety and doubles down on repeal of net neutrality (Fight for the Future) Trump FCC again puts industry interests over those of public safety, low-income Americans INCOMPAS on Net Neutrality Repeal’s Impact on Broadband Deployment and Public Safety During a Pandemic FCC Vote Signals Agency's Refusal to Address the Digital Divide During Pandemic and Beyond (Free Pres) Public Knowledge Condemns Latest FCC Move to Abandon Consumers Pallone & Doyle Criticize Chairman Pai's Moves to Cement Net Neutrality Rollback U.S. Consumers Big Winners as FCC Affirms Restoring Internet Freedom Order (AT&T) ALA decries latest FCC failure on net neutrality