Reactions to the FCC's Reinstatement of Title II Classification of Broadband and Net Neutrality Protections

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, "Broadband is now an essential service. Essential services, the ones we count on in every aspect of modern life, have some basic oversight. So let's be clear about what we are doing today. This agency, the nation's leading communications authority, believes every consumer deserves Internet access that is fast, open and fair. That is why we determine that the Federal Communications Commission should be able to assist consumers and take action when it comes to the most important communications of our time. And that's broadband. This is common sense."

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, "Today, we take the important and necessary step to give control of the Internet to those who deserve it: Consumers. That is what this item is really about.  Some, no doubt today, will claim that it is all a scheme for government control of the internet. But let’s be real. It is about ensuring that each and every American can use their broadband subscription to access the legal content of their choosing."

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said, "Today’s Order is not about “net neutrality.” When we abandoned Title II in 2017, proponents of greater government control flooded the zone with apocalyptic rhetoric. Media outlets and politicians mindlessly parroted their claims. They predicted “the end of the Internet as we know it” and that “you’ll get the Internet one word at a time.” Consumers would have to pay to reach websites. None of it happened. Americans were subjected to one of the greatest hoaxes in regulatory history."

“Broadband access to the Internet is a critical conduit that is essential for modern life,” said FCC Commissioner Anna Gomez. “Protecting this critical infrastructure that is essential to the safety, economy, health, education, and well-being of this country is good public policy. The value is so great that we cannot wait for the flood to arrive before we start to build the levee. 

U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Peter Welch (D-VT), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) issued the following statement applauding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to restore net neutrality: “We applaud the leadership of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioners Geoffrey Starks and Anna Gomez for taking an important step to restore net neutrality protections for consumers, small businesses, and the American people. The decision to repeal net neutrality protections in 2017 went against strong public support and jeopardized a free and open internet. Today’s vote restores the FCC’s Title II authority over the most popular communication today: broadband internet. This will safeguard national security, advance public safety, and protect consumers. We commend the FCC for taking action to connect our constituents to broadband and move toward 100 percent connectivity."

Benton Senior Counselor Andrew Jay Schwartzman said, "Today’s vote provides welcome, if long overdue, protections for all Americans.  Despite a few shortcomings, this is the most important thing the FCC can do to promote free speech, competition, public safety, and national security. The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society would have preferred that the Commission continued the debate on whether or not broadband providers should contribute to the Universal Service Fund and that it had taken a more proactive stance toward wireless companies’ efforts to create loopholes to avoid regulation of some 5G services.  But those shortcomings do not change the fact that today is a great day for internet freedom. The bottom line is that Americans rely on internet access too much for there to be no public interest requirements on and appropriate oversight of service providers. The FCC’s action today means the most powerful and pervasive platform in the history of the world will remain open to freely exchange ideas without undue commercial influence."

"The Affordable Broadband Campaign welcomes the FCC reinstating its power to oversee broadband Internet access service (BIAS)," said Gigi Sohn, Spokesperson for the Affordable Broadband Campaign. "At the same time, we find it mind-boggling that the agency that successfully managed a broadband program that has benefitted over 23 million U.S. households is now effectively shutting the door to a permanent subsidy. The decision to forbear from applying Section 254 (d) to BIAS is even more puzzling because there were several ways the FCC could have delayed the imposition of USF fees on broadband providers without taking the harsh step of forbearing. But the agency chose to make it needlessly difficult for a future FCC to reverse course, no matter how much the contribution factor might rise. “Unforbearing” has no precedent at the agency, and would cause a political and legal firestorm. This action not only puts the future of the low-income broadband subsidy at risk, but also that of every other universal service program, including the E-Rate and Rural Health Care programs. The FCC’s rationale for forbearing is paper thin. Mere “estimates” of possible price increases do not constitute a legally defensible record, nor does the fear of increased criticism from some ISPs that are already vehemently opposed to the FCC’s welcome decision to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. Nor is adherence to the 2015 Open Internet Order a sound rationale—today’s order does not mimic the 2015 order in all respects. In any event, much has changed in the past nine years, including the impact of a global pandemic and a near 40% contribution factor. And tens of millions of households are about to lose broadband Internet access, which is essential for full participation in our society, because Congress has so far failed to provide new Affordable Connectivity Program funding."

Michael Copps, Former FCC Chair and Common Cause Special Adviser, said, "If I weren’t out of the country today, I would be personally at the FCC jumping up and down, saluting the majority for reinstituting the network neutrality rules that were so foolishly eliminated by the previous Commission. I have been personally and deeply involved in the battle for an open internet for more than 20 years, both as a Commissioner and more recently as a public interest advocate. Today’s action brings back moderate rules that have already passed court muster and are essential building blocks for a consumer-friendly and citizen-friendly internet. Congratulations to Chair Rosenworcel, Commissioner Starks, and Commissioner Gomez for getting us here today."

Ishan Mehta, Common Cause Media and Democracy Program Director, said, "The restoration of Net Neutrality is a victory for every American household, and it is a victory for democracy. Today’s vote returns control of the Internet to the American people instead of corporate interests. The Internet is crucial to civic engagement in the United States today. It functions as a virtual public square where social justice movements organize and garner support."

John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge, said, "Today, the FCC voted to restore the net neutrality rules that were put into place in 2015, and later repealed. Restoring what we had before is an important victory, but just the beginning. As we said when the FCC published its draft Order, Title II is about much more than just net neutrality. It’s the foundation of FCC authority for broadband generally, and will help the agency promote public safety and national security; ensure resilient and reliable networks; combat digital discrimination; and promote competition and affordable service. Now the FCC needs to act on these priorities."

"We’re pleased to see the restoration of Title II authority and Net Neutrality rules. But let’s be clear: this is nearly two decades later than it had to be," said Raza Panjwani, a Senior Policy Counsel at New America's Open Technology Institute (OTI). "For two decades, the industry has resisted even the most basic forms of accountability, challenging common sense rules—two decades that could have been spent addressing consumer protection, affordability, competition and network resiliency, safety, and security issues. We look forward to seeing the final rules, which we hope will reflect our recommendations for establishing the strongest possible rules for consumers, including on issues such as “network slicing,” throttling, and affordability."

"All of us who rely on the internet every day can breathe a sigh of relief, because the FCC is back on the beat," said Michael Calabrese, Director of the Wireless Future Project at OTI. "The reinstatement of strong open internet protections under Title II of the Communications Act are vital to promoting a virtuous cycle of online innovation, competition, and consumer choice. As mobile carriers develop what they call “network slicing,” we will be on the lookout for offers that violate the fundamental principles of network neutrality."

Free Press Co-CEO Craig Aaron said, "Everyone should celebrate today’s FCC vote. Public support for Net Neutrality is overwhelming, and people understand why we need a federal watchdog to protect everyone’s access to the most essential communications platform of our time. The FCC heard the outcry and did its job: delivering on promises to stand with internet users and against big telecom companies and their trade groups, which have spent untold millions of dollars to spread lies about Net Neutrality and thwart any oversight or regulation. This is what democracy should look like: public servants responding to public sentiment, taking steps to protect just and reasonable services and free expression, and showing that the government is capable of defending the public interest."

Andy Stutzman, Executive Director at Next Century Cities, said, "The Federal Communications Commission’s action to reclassify broadband as Title II is a critical step in protecting consumers and holding Internet service providers accountable. Today’s decision comes at a crucial time as the Affordable Connectivity Program winds down, putting over 23 million households at risk of losing Internet access, and driving the need for additional consumer safeguards."

Ryan Johnston, Senior Policy Counsel for Federal Programs, added, "With $42.5 billion soon to be released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commission’s reinstatement of its Title II authority puts in place timely protections for the households that are soon to come online. Ensuring that these new consumers are protected is critical to closing the national broadband adoption gap."

Corian Zacher, Senior Policy Counsel for State and Local Affairs, also added, "With innumerable government, financial, and health services now available online, a home broadband connection is more critical than ever to living a full life. Residents need high-quality, reliable, and affordable broadband for students to attend school, wage earners to access employment, and older adults to age in place independently. Restoring the FCC’s Title II authority over broadband is a long overdue step toward providing the consumer protections the public expects of essential services."

With today’s vote, the Commission is exercising its authority to fulfill its Congressional mandate to ensure that all people living in the United States have reliable, affordable, and safe access to the internet regardless of their race, gender, geographic location, or internet service provider," said Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC).

Jonathan Spalter, USTelecom President & CEO, said, "These 400-plus pages of relentless regulation are proof positive that old orthodoxies die hard – even when the cost is failing to achieve internet for all. Our nation has a stark choice: Do we move forward together and connect everyone or dial it all back? Just two and a half short years ago we stood together for universal connectivity. Title II does nothing to advance that shared objective. Rather than pushing this harmful regulatory land grab, policymakers should keep their eyes on the real-world prize of building opportunity for everyone in a hyperconnected world."

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association CEO Shirley Bloomfield said, "NTCA has long advocated that core principles such as protecting consumers and ensuring universal service must be the touchstones of broadband regulatory reforms and initiatives. In the context of open internet policy, this should include making sure that right-sized, light-touch rules apply to all entities that can affect the seamless transmission of data consistent with consumer expectations and demands, while avoiding the imposition of heavy-handed regulations on any one sector involved in the delivery of such content. Unfortunately, today’s order appears to reinstate a regulatory framework that focuses upon only one sliver of the broader online ecosystem and, while we need to see the precise details of the item, we are concerned that the order could impose burdens on smaller broadband providers in particular in the course of doing so."

ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer said, "With its internet takeover, the FCC is creating mountains of uncertainty for smaller broadband providers who will be forced to shift much-needed investment dollars away from their networks to pay for expensive regulatory compliance costs. This will set back our Members’ ongoing work to close the connectivity gap in areas of the country that lack reliable services. ACA Connects will continue to support efforts, including litigation, to overturn these heavy-handed, unnecessary utility-style regulations, which only serve to discourage development of robust and reliable broadband service for all Americans."

"WISPA is disappointed by today’s action to impose utility regulation on the broadband industry," said Louis Peraertz, VP of Policy, WISPA – The Association for Broadband Without Boundaries. "Although the Commission has indicated it will forbear from imposing a number of its core powers contemplated within the Order, make no bones about it:  the adopted Order is in-apt for today’s pro-consumer, hyper-innovative broadband networks, and will have costly, cascading and pernicious effects on broadband access, especially for small rural ISPs and their customers.  In a practical sense, ISPs will have to ask the FCC permission to do most anything to avoid agency liability, creating enormous uncertainty which will retard innovation and needed investment."

"Today’s action is the latest installment of a long-running campaign to establish FCC control of the internet," said Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA–The Internet & Television Association. "This is a politically-motivated reversal of prior law, not an exercise in evidence-based rulemaking. There is no evidence of a problem to be solved."

CCIA Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President Stephanie Joyce said, "CCIA applauds and thanks the FCC for restoring the light-touch but necessary Open Internet rules that will give broadband internet access subscribers the protections that Congress established for all users of telecommunications. Safeguarding the integrity of the United States telecom network is a core responsibility for the FCC, one that it certainly fulfilled today. These rules strike the right balance between ensuring robust, reliable broadband while fostering continued innovation in the services that carriers offer."

Reactions to the FCC's Reinstatement of Title II Classification of Broadband and Net Neutrality Protections Public Knowledge Applauds FCC Move Restoring Agency’s Broadband Authority, Net Neutrality Rules OTI Applauds FCC’s Reinstatement of Vital Open Internet Protections and Industry Oversight In Historic Vote, the FCC Reasserts Its Authority to Protect the Open Internet and Safeguard Online Users USTelecom Statement on the FCC Title II Vote NTCA Responds to FCC Vote on Open Internet Order Luján, Colleagues Applaud FCC Vote to Restore Net Neutrality FCC passes net neutrality order ... again ... for now Benton Welcomes FCC Action to Promote Free Speech, Competition, Public Safety, and National Security Gomez Votes to Restore Net Neutrality Carr Title II Oral Dissent ACA Connects Statement on FCC’s Internet Takeover WISPA Disappointed by FCC Vote to Impose Stifling Utility Rules on Broadband Providers Statement of Michael Powell, President & CEO of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association Regarding the FCC’s Unnecessary and FCC Adopts Net Neutrality Rules (Again) in Replay of Fight Over Internet Regulation FCC Votes to Restore Net Neutrality