Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its open Internet order. The order imposes new Internet regulations, commonly referred to as “net neutrality regulations,” and it reclassifies the Internet from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated “common carrier” telecommunications service. That reclassification puts broadband Internet services into the same regulatory category that has applied to public utilities and “plain old telephone services” for generations.
Many groups gasped and complained that the new rules would be costly for Internet service providers and consumers, because they would likely impose new broadband service taxes and discourage broadband network investment. Both assertions were strongly rejected by the FCC’s Chairman, Tom Wheeler, who announced that the order would not affect taxes and would protect both innovators and investors. As months passed, there are indeed plans underway to impose broadband taxes and there is now mounting evidence that investment is likely to decline as a result of common carrier regulations.
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