FCC Adopts Landmark Broadband Orders

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In a dramatic open meeting that featured guest speakers from the online, technology and entertainment industries, the FCC officially adopted two orders that boldly asserted unprecedented regulatory authority over broadband Internet services. As widely anticipated and following mostly lengthy Commissioner remarks, the FCC in a 3-2 vote adopted its Open Internet (or net neutrality) order establishing strong open Internet rules specifically grounded in Title II of the Communications Act as well as other sources of the FCC’s legal authority. This move reclassifies both wireline and wireless broadband as Title II telecommunications services subject to FCC regulatory oversight, though the FCC has exercised forbearance with regard to several key provisions, including rate regulation and contributions to universal service. Additionally, the FCC in another 3-2 vote granted the petitions of two municipal broadband providers in North Carolina and Tennessee preempting State laws restricted the abilities of these community service providers to expand their broadband service offerings to surrounding areas where customers have requested service. This action was rooted in Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which directs the FCC to encourage deployment of infrastructure for advanced telecommunications capability (including broadband). The text of these orders has not yet been released.

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