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Net Neutrality Debate Heats Up in D.C.

Net Neutrality Debate

Debate over federal Internet laws is heating up ahead of a likely net neutrality vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Feb. 26. “Net neutrality” is the concept that Internet service providers (ISPs) should not block, slow down online traffic or allow paid prioritization that advantages or disadvantages content. From marketing to leasing, to revenue and amenities, apartment firms and their residents rely heavily on Internet access and speed.

According to net neutrality proponents, without regulation, the largest content providers, and those willing and able to pay for priority, would be significantly advantaged while others are blocked or slowed. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently implied that the FCC proposal may rely on Title II of the Communications Act, a statutory provision traditionally applied to telephone companies that prohibits “unjust or unreasonable” differences in providers’ services and charges. But critics contend that this could subject ISPs to rate regulation or mandate service to specific customers.

Meanwhile, a legislative approach was urged in an opinion editorial by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). They emphasize that bipartisan legislation targeted to promote certainty and encourage job creation and economic growth, would limit regulatory burdens and the likelihood of a lengthy legal challenge to FCC regulations. Democratic support is unclear and may depend on the FCC’s proposal.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) was also introduced last month directing the FCC to ban agreements for paid priority.

NAA/NMHC continue to closely monitor and evaluate legislative and regulatory developments and will represent the industry’s interests as Congress and the FCC consider the various approaches to regulating the Internet.

 

Provided by NMHC as part of the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program