Senate Republicans oppose FCC’s new Net Neutrality rules

Senate Republicans oppose FCC’s new Net Neutrality rules

Against the backdrop of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s new Net Neutrality rules, some Senate Republicans said on Wednesday that the rules will probably lead to rate regulation, and may also prompt some small broadband providers to shutter their businesses.

The FCC voted in favor of the new Net Neutrality rules on February 26. The rules essentially forbid broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content; and propose the reclassification of broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service under the 1934 Communications Act.

Though FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler – who proposed the new Net Neutrality rules – claims that the new rules have broad support, some Republican members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voiced their criticism of the new rules during a hearing on Wednesday.

Opposing the FCC’s new Net Neutrality rules, Committee Chairman Senator John Thune - a South Dakota Republican – said that the broadband reclassification as a common-carrier service will subject broadband providers to the requirement that they offer their services at "just and reasonable" rates. As such, even though the FCC does not plan to regulate broadband rates, customers may come up with complaints of ‘unreasonable’ subscription fees; thereby prompting an investigation by the FCC.

With the Committee expressing the opinion that the new Net Neutrality rules will probably be challenged in the court, and will likely not survive the challenge, Thune said that broadband reclassification under the 1934 Communications Act makes the FCC an "unpredictable agency as it struggles to operate under legal authority that was designed nearly 100 years ago."

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