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Carr: The Internet Didn’t Break

Republican commissioner says there’s no need to “fix” Title II

Launching an anticipatory volley in the debate over whether the internet is a utility, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr says: “So no matter what you hear tomorrow and beyond, the internet is not broken and the FCC does not need Title II to fix it.”

The commission’s monthly open meeting is tomorrow (Thursday). Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has circulated a notice that — if approved 3–2 tomorrow as expected — will begin a rulemaking toward restoring “net neutrality” rules. (Read her September speech announcing the initiative.)

Carr, senior Republican on the commission, describes the initiative as “President Biden’s plan for increasing government control of the internet,” proposing to classify broadband as a utility service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.  

“There will be lots of talk about ‘net neutrality’ and virtually none about the core issue before the agency: namely, whether the FCC should claim for itself the freewheeling power to micromanage nearly every aspect of how the internet functions — from the services that consumers can access to the prices that can be charged,” he wrote in a statement.

Carr says the debate over whether Title II regulations are necessary or justified “was settled years ago.” He said predictions that the internet “would quite literally break” after the FCC overturned the Obama administration’s “two-year experiment with Title II” failed to come true — that prices for broadband didn’t spike, Americans weren’t charged to visit websites and the internet didn’t slow down.

He provided data that he says show that internet speeds are up, inflation-adjusted prices are down “substantially” on a price-per-Megabyte basis; that competition has intensified and that the digital divide is narrowing. (Read his letter.)

“I would encourage the agency to reverse course and focus on the important issues that Congress has authorized the FCC to advance,” Carr said.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel issued a statement of her own ahead of the meeting, summarizing major arguments in favor of the initiative (read about it here).

Lead photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr PRO.

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