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Senate Votes to Reinstate Net Neutrality Protections, House Approval Uncertain

Net Neutrality Protections

The apartment industry and its residents increasingly depend on reliable high-speed broadband service for community amenities, marketing, leasing, revenue management and more. NAA/NMHC pay close attention to regulatory and legislative telecommunications policies that could impact apartment development and operations such as broadband deployment, service provider agreements, and solutions for connectivity and capacity challenges.

Net neutrality - or the Open Internet - is the concept that internet service providers should not block, “throttle” (slow down or speed up online traffic) or allow paid priority access that advantages or disadvantages content providers. The Senate approved a resolution on May 16 that would overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality protections, which prohibited internet service providers (ISPs) from prioritizing, slowing or blocking online content.

The FCC’s plan would require ISPs to be transparent about those practices but would not prohibit them, thereby depending on consumers to use the platforms, choose a provider and customize a service plan that suits their needs. Supporters of the FCC action hold that a “light-touch” regulatory approach will create certainty in the market and encourage broadband investment. However, opponents of the plan say that ISPs will favor their own content and offer paid priority access, creating a system where companies unable to shoulder the extra costs will pass them along to customers, resulting in higher consumer prices and more limited access.

The FCC proposed these rollbacks in December as part of the Trump Administration’s regulatory review and reform efforts. Senate Democrats utilized the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to force a vote on restoring the previous Open Internet order. The Senate passed this resolution with bipartisan support. Despite its momentum, the effort is unlikely to garner enough support from House Republicans to be brought up for consideration in that chamber.

NAA/NMHC will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that they understand the importance of reliable telecommunications services for apartment operations and resident satisfaction.   

More on Net Neutrality can be found here.