On March 18th, 2021, the Federal Communications Bar Association sponsored a continuing legal education course entitled, “Net Neutrality 101: A Technical and Policy Overview.” Francella Ochillo, Next Century Cities Executive Director, was invited to speak on a panel of experts from the App Association; Carnegie Mellon University; Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP; Mintz Levin; and USTelecom – The Broadband Association who represented key viewpoints from public and private stakeholders.
In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed the 2015 Open Internet Order, which eliminated bright-line net neutrality rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. It also relinquished significant regulatory authority over Internet service providers, limiting its own ability to develop rules or update rules that increase affordability and competition and support its efforts to enforce consumer protections.
New leadership at the FCC has, once again, raised questions about how the agency intends to regulate broadband network management practices. Currently, it has little authority to prohibit unjust, unreasonable, and discriminatory practices such as zero-rating plans. Also, with affordability being a dominant concern for broadband adoption, the absence of net neutrality protections contributes to the disparity between people who can afford high-quality service and those who cannot.