This bill would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating the retail rates charged by Internet service providers (ISPs) for broadband Internet service access. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and President Obama promised, when the net neutrality rules were adopted, that the FCC would refrain from regulating rates. H.R. 2666 would codify into law the promises made by Chairman Wheeler and the administration.
Why is this important?
- Rate regulation, or the threat of potential rate regulation, creates significant uncertainty for ISPs and as a result, discourages investment and unique pricing structures or service plans.
- Rate regulation, whether by rule or by enforcement, can prevent providers from offering pro-consumer service plans.
- Despite prior promises, Chairman Wheeler admitted at a March 2016 hearing that the FCC should have the authority to regulate broadband rates. Watch the video.
The No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act:
- Makes specific exemptions from the prohibition on rate regulation for:
- Universal Service: the FCC retains its existing authority to condition receipt of USF subsidies on rate regulation for the subsidized service;
- Truth-in-billing rules: the FCC retains its existing authority to enforce the truth in billing rules, which govern the presentation of charges to the consumer; and
- Paid prioritization: the FCC retains any existing authority to enforce the paid prioritization rule from the Open Internet Order.
- Clarifies that this Act does not address data roaming or interconnection in the definition of Broadband Internet Access Service. While theses services are not mass-market retail services and therefore not included in the bill by definition, this makes that interpretation clear.
- Defines several key terms, including:
- Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS): has the same meaning given to the term as part of the FCC’s Open Internet Order;
- Rate: defined as the amount charged by a provider of BIAS for delivery of broadband Internet traffic; and
- Regulation: with respect to a rate, the use of rulemaking or enforcement authority to establish, declare, or review the reasonableness of such rate. This captures concerns with both “before the fact” and “after the fact” regulation of rates.