FCC Releases Open Internet Rules

    View Authors March 2015

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the text of its much-anticipated Open Internet Order (Order), which sets forth the Commission’s revised net neutrality rules. The Order, which marks a historic change in position for the FCC , reclassifies retail Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) as a telecommunications service subject to “common carrier” (public utility) regulation under Title II. The Order imposes a near-absolute prohibition on “paid prioritization” agreements in which a broadband Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as AT&T or Comcast, charges an “edge provider,” such as Google or Netflix, for access to a “fast lane” between the edge provider and its end-user customers. The Order also bars BIAS providers from “blocking” or “throttling” (i.e., slowing) Internet traffic between edge providers and end-users. In another change from past practice, the FCC is applying its new rules to both wireline and wireless broadband ISPs. Finally, for the first time, the FCC has asserted authority to resolve disputes between broadband ISPs and entities – such as Internet backbone providers, content delivery networks, and edge providers – that seek to interconnect directly with the ISP. The Order is certain to be challenged in court, leading to one to two years of continued regulatory uncertainty.