Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NET NEUT | Senate Vote?

L to R: Senators Feinstein, Schumer, Collins.
With the swearing-in of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones, the Senate Republican majority is a slender 51-49.

So it is significant that  and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) opposed the repeal of net neutrality.  

The FCC voted to repeal its own net neutrality rules last week, and the repeal will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This means that the big internet service providers (ISPs) can offer differ speeds and quality of feed based on payment. This offers the ISPs great potential for new revenue. Think of how much money the railroads were able to squeeze out of their clients when they started playing with the prices. The Federal Government followed the British by imposing rules on interstate "common carriers"...

Could the Congress reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's 3-2 decision to repeal net neutrality rules? 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last month that he will force a vote on a bill that would reverse the repeal. Congress can overturn agency actions by invoking the Congressional Review Act (CRA), as it did in 2017 to eliminate consumer broadband privacy protections.

A successful CRA vote here would prevent the FCC from enforcing its repeal or issuing a similar repeal in the future. The FCC would have to maintain the rules and the related classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

Comment

This debate could turn on the big business vs. small business issue. 

The large Internet Service Providers would like to be able to provide premium services, trading higher fees for better access to the internet. Large businesses (and speculators looking for an edge) would be glad to pay for faster access to data than the general public. 

The reasonable fear among small businesses and consumers in general is that their internet access will be either 

  • greatly degraded or 
  • much more expensive or
  • (most likely) both.