Bloomberg BNA: Congress Shouldn’t Repeat the FCC’s Title II Mistake

By Former U.S. Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA)

Rick Boucher was a member of the US House for 28 years and chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet. He is honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) and head of the government strategies practice at the law firm Sidley Austin.

With its recent Restoring Internet Freedom order (FCC 17-166), the Federal Communications Commission took a major step in promoting the internet as a place of continued innovation where, with greater regulatory certainty, investors will make urgently needed new broadband deployments.

An accelerating investment climate will become even more important as the nation transitions to fifth generation wireless networks (5G) that will form the backbone of the internet of things. With the dramatic speed improvements expected through 5G technology will come exciting developments such as connected cars that communicate with each other, enabling widely available autonomous driving.

There’s a common misconception that “Title II” status and “net neutrality” are the same thing. They are not. Title II is statutory shorthand for the system by which the internet is regulated—whether as a telecommunications service, like the old monopoly phone network, or as a more lightly regulated “Title I” information service. “Net neutrality” deals with what network operators may do—and may not do—in the course of providing access to the internet through their communications infrastructure.


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