FCC Gives Final Net Neutrality Notice, Repeal In Late April

The United States Federal Communications Commission gave its final net neutrality notice on Thursday by publishing its mid-December decision to repeal the Title II regulations in the Federal Register. The move marks the start of a 60-day countdown until the vote becomes official, as per applicable laws. As confirmed by the filing itself, the net neutrality repeal will go into effect on April 23. The battle for net neutrality may still change course, with over half of all U.S. states now considering pushing their own regulations to protect the open Internet, whereas half a dozen of them already did so via governor-issued executive orders and other means.

The FCC's decision has also been challenged in multiple courts throughout the country and is still heavily protested both online and offline. The controversial "Restoring Internet Freedom" act argues the 2015 regulations based on the Communications Act stifled the industry's growth by discouraging investments and hence hurting innovation, consequently also preventing Internet service providers from creating new jobs. Numerous opponents of the repeal describe such claims as baseless, asserting that none of the effects of the FCC's decision will reflect positively on the consumers. While ISPs aren't expected to start selling content packages to users that would allow for unthrottled access to select websites, many are fearing the lack of Title II protections will be abused by the industry in order to sell access to the so-called "fast lanes" to companies, hurting disruptive startups and their chances to compete with large firms capable of surviving in the world of paid prioritization.

The debate is still seeing no end in sight and it remains to be seen whether individual states will be allowed to enact their own net neutrality protections as one of the provisions attached to the FCC's repeal prohibits such moves but has yet to survive judicial scrutiny. The wireless industry and traditional ISPs are arguing against Title II protections because they don't want to be categorized as utility providers, though some have already called for Congress to settle the matter with a federal bill. AT&T has been particularly vocal about such a congressional intervention, though the firm wants the legislation to also regulate websites and still allow ISPs to offer paid prioritization which critics argue is just a different version of throttling.

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