Internet providers say FCC should not investigate broadband prices

by MMC
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Internet service providers and their lobby groups are fight against a US plan to ban discrimination in access to broadband services. In particular, ISPs want the Federal Communications Commission to drop the plan’s proposal requiring that prices charged to consumers be nondiscriminatory. From a report: In 2021, Congress directed the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules “preventing digital discrimination in access based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin” within two years. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel last month released her proposed plan to comply with Congress’ mandate and scheduled a Nov. 15 commission vote on adopting final rules. The plan is likely to pass on a party-line vote since Rosenworcel has a 3-2 Democratic majority, but some aspects of the plan could be changed before the vote. Next week’s meeting could be contentious, judging by a statement released Monday by Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr.

Carr described Rosenworcel’s proposal as “President Biden’s plan to give the administrative state effective control over all Internet services and infrastructure in the United States.” He also objects to the Rosenworcel plan’s statement that FCC rules can apply to entities that are not broadband providers, such as homeowners, if they “prevent equal access to high-speed Internet access service. Consumer advocates generally support the proposal, but say the system intended to handle complaints, ISP responses and investigations is not transparent enough, reducing the system’s potential to act as a deterrent. Consumer advocates also say that Internet users who have already been harmed by discrimination may not get relief because the proposed rules do not apply retroactively. ISPs, including Comcast, Charter, AT&T and Verizon, held a series of meetings with FCC officials and commissioners in which they argued the rules were too broad.

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