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Chairman Response Regarding Open Internet

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Released: July 17, 2014
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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS

COMMISSION

WASHINGTON

Orner: OF

June 30, 2014

THE CHAIRMAN

The Honorable Kelly Ayotte

United States Senate

144 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Ayotte:

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding the Commission's efforts to

reinstate rules to preserve and protect the Open Internet. As you know, the NoLice of Proposed

Rule making ("Notice") adopted by the Commission in May 2014 proposes rules that would

replace those struck down early this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its

Verizon decision, and we ask a number of questions about the appropriate legal foundation for

such rules. Your letter will be included in the record of the proceeding and considered as part of

the Commission's review.

The Commission has been working for more than a decade to safeguard the Open

Internet. While there has been a bipartisan consensus, starting under the Bush Administration

with Chairman Powell, on the importance of an open Internet to economic growth, investment,

and innovation, we find ourselves today without any rules in place to protect and promote

Internet openness. The status quo is unacceptable. Unless and until the FCC adopts new rules,

broadband providers will be free to block, degrade, or otherwise disadvantage innovative

services on the Internet without threat of sanction by the FCC. As Chairman, I will utilize the

best tools available to me to ensure the Commission adopts effective and resilient open Internet

rules.

The court' s decision in Verizon established unequivocally that the Commission has the

legal authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to craft enforceable

rules to protect and promote an open Internet for all Americans. Specifically, the court agreed

with the Commission's conclusion that an open Internet enables a virtuous cycle of investment

and broadband deployment -

i.e. , that innovative content and services at the edges of the network

drive consumer demand for broadband services, which drives investment in broadband

infrastructure and deployment, which drives more innovation at the network' s edges, and so on.

The court affirmed that it is the Commission's responsibility to protect this virtuous cycle and

that Section 706 authorizes us to do so.

I believe that the Section 706 framework set forth by the court provides us with the tools

we need to adopt and implement robust and enforceable Open Internet rules. For this reason, the

Notice used the court' s legal blueprint as a starting point. Nevertheless, the Commission also is

seriously considering the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal

authority. The Notice explains that both Section 706 and Title II are viable solutions to the

image02-00.jpg612x792

Page 2-

The Honorable Kelly Ayotte

authority issue, and seeks comment on the benefits of each approach, as well as the benefits of

one approach over the other, to ensuring that the Internet remains an open platform for

innovation and expression. Additionally, the Notice seeks comment on other proposals

suggesting the Commission could apply both Section 706 and Title II to component parts of

broadband Internet access services.

The attention paid to this topic in the lead-up to our May Open Meeting is proof of why

the open and free exchange of information must be encouraged. It is important that the Notice

was reported out by the Commission so that the public can review the proposal and provide

comments. Further delay would have only delayed the opportunity for public review and input.

In addition, we have an extended comment period until September 10, 2014 so that there will be

ample time for expression of views on the item.

This Notice is the first step in the process, and I look forward to comments from all

interested stakeholders, including members of the general public, as we develop a fulsome record

on the legal authority and many other questions raised in the Notice. To that end, in an effort to

maximize public participation in this proceeding, we have established an Open Internet email

address -

openintemet@fcc.gov -

to ensure that Americans who may not otherwise have the

opportunity to participate in an FCC proceeding can make their voices heard. In addition, to

ensure sufficient opportunity for broad public comment, we have provided a lengthy comment

and reply period that will give everyone an opportunity to participate.

Again, I appreciate your deep interest in this matter and look forward to a continued

engagement with you and others in Congress as we move forward with this proceeding.

;i/1~1

Tom Wheeler

image03-00.jpg612x792

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

WASHINGTON

OFFIC E OF

THE CHAIR M AN

June 30, 2014

The Honorable Dan Coats

United States Senate

493 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Coats:

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding the Commission's efforts to

reinstate rules to preserve and protect the Open Internet. As you know, the Notice of Proposed

Rulemaking ("Notice") adopted by the Commission in May 2014 proposes rules that would

replace those struck down early this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its

Verizon decision, and we ask a number of questions about the appropriate legal foundation for

such rules. Your letter will be included in the record of the proceeding and considered as part of

the Commission's review.

The Commission has been working for more than a decade to safeguard the Open

Internet. While there has been a bipartisan consensus, starting under the Bush Administration

with Chairman Powell, on the importance of an open Internet to economic growth, investment,

and innovation, we find ourselves today without any rules in place to protect and promote

Internet openness. The status quo is unacceptable. Unless and until the FCC adopts new rules,

broadband providers will be free to block, degrade, or otherwise disadvantage innovative

services on the Internet without threat of sanction by the FCC. As Chairman, I will utilize the

best tools available to me to ensure the Commission adopts effective and resilient open Internet

rules.

The court's decision in Verizon established unequivocally that the Commission has the

legal authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to craft enforceable

rules to protect and promote an open Internet for all Americans. Specifically, the court agreed

with the Commission's conclusion that an open Internet enables a virtuous cycle of investment

and broadband deployment -

i.e., that innovative content and services at the edges of the network

drive consumer demand for broadband services, which drives investment in broadband

infrastructure and deployment, which drives more innovation at the network's edges, and so on.

The court affirmed that it is the Commission's responsibility to protect this virtuous cycle and

that Section 706 authorizes us to do so.

I believe that the Section 706 framework set forth by the court provides us with the tools

we need to adopt and implement robust and enforceable Open Internet rules. For this reason, the

Notice used the court's legal blueprint as a starting point. Nevertheless, the Commission also is

seriously considering the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal

authority. The Notice explains that both Section 706 and Title II are viable solutions to the

image04-00.jpg612x792

Page 2-

The Honorable Dan Coats

authority issue, and seeks comment on the benefits of each approach, as well as the benefits of

one approach over the other, to ensuring that the Internet remains an open platform for

innovation and expression. Additionally, the Notice seeks comment on other proposals

suggesting the Commission could apply both Section 706 and Title II to component parts of

broadband Internet access services.

The attention paid to this topic in the lead-up to our May Open Meeting is proof of why

the open and free exchange of information must be encouraged. It is important that the Notice

was reported out by the Commission so that the public can review the proposal and provide

comments. Further delay would have only delayed the opportunity for public review and input.

In addition, we have an extended comment period until September 1 0, 2014 so that there will be

ample time for expression of views on the item.

This Notice is the first step in the process, and I look forward to comments from all

interested stakeholders, including members of the general public, as we develop a fulsome record

on the legal authority and many other questions raised in the Notice. To that end, in an effort to

maximize public participation in this proceeding, we have established an Open Internet email

address -

openinternet@fcc.gov -

to ensure that Americans who may not otherwise have the

opportunity to participate in an FCC proceeding can make their voices heard. In addition, to

ensure sufficient opportunity for broad public comment, we have provided a lengthy comment

and reply period that will give everyone an opportunity to participate.

Again, I appreciate your deep interest in this matter and look forward to a continued

engagement with you and others in Congress as we move forward with this proceeding.

Sincerely,

Tom Wheeler

image05-00.jpg612x792

FEDERAL COMMUN ICATIONS COMMISSION

WASHINGTON

OFFICC OF

THE CHAIRMAN

June 30, 2014

The Honorable Deb Fischer

United States Senate

825 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Fischer:

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding the Commission's efforts to

reinstate rules to preserve and protect the Open Internet. As you know, the Notice of Proposed

Rule making ("Notice") adopted by the Commission in May 2014 proposes rules that would

replace those struck down early this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its

Verizon decision, and we ask a number of questions about the appropriate legal foundation for

such rules. Your letter will be included in the record of the proceeding and considered as part of

the Commission's review.

The Commission has been working for more than a decade to safeguard the Open

Internet. While there has been a bipartisan consensus, starting under the Bush Administration

with Chairman Powell, on the importance of an open Internet to economic growth, investment,

and innovation, we find ourselves today without any rules in place to protect and promote

Internet openness. The status quo is unacceptable. Unless and until the FCC adopts new rules,

broadband providers will be free to block, degrade, or otherwise disadvantage innovative

services on the Internet without threat of sanction by the FCC. As Chairman, I will utilize the

best tools available to me to ensure the Commission adopts effective and resilient open Internet

rules.

The court's decision in Verizon established unequivocally that the Commission has the

legal authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to craft enforceable

rules to protect and promote an open Internet for all Americans. Specifically, the court agreed

with the Commission's conclusion that an open Internet enables a virtuous cycle of investment

and broadband deployment -

i.e., that innovative content and services at the edges of the network

drive consumer demand for broadband services, which drives investment in broadband

infrastructure and deployment, which drives more innovation at the network's edges, and so on.

The court affirmed that it is the Commission's responsibility to protect this virtuous cycle and

that Section 706 authorizes us to do so.

I believe that the Section 706 framework set forth by the court provides us with the tools

we need to adopt and implement robust and enforceable Open Internet rules. For this reason, the

Notice used the court's legal blueprint as a starting point. Nevertheless, the Commission also is

seriously considering the use of Title II of the Communications Act as the basis for legal

authority. The Notice explains that both Section 706 and Title II are viable solutions to the

image06-00.jpg612x792

Page 2-

The Honorable Deb Fischer

authority issue, and seeks comment on the benefits of each approach, as well as the benefits of

one approach over the other, to ensuring that the Internet remains an open platform for

innovation and expression. Additionally, the Notice seeks comment on other proposals

suggesting the Commission could apply both Section 706 and Title II to component parts of

broadband Internet access services.

The attention paid to this topic in the lead-up to our May Open Meeting is proof of why

the open and free exchange of information must be encouraged. It is important that the Notice

was reported out by the Commission so that the public can review the proposal and provide

comments. Further delay would have only delayed the opportunity for public review and input.

In addition, we have an extended comment period until September 10, 2014 so that there will be

ample time for expression of views on the item.

This Notice is the first step in the process, and I look forward to comments from all

interested stakeholders, including members of the general public, as we develop a fulsome record

on the legal authority and many other questions raised in the Notice. To that end, in an effort to

maximize public participation in this proceeding, we have established an Open Internet email

address -

openinternet@fcc.gov -

to ensure that Americans who may not otherwise have the

opportunity to participate in an FCC proceeding can make their voices heard. In addition, to

ensure sufficient opportunity for broad public comment, we have provided a lengthy comment

and reply period that will give everyone an opportunity to participate.

Again, I appreciate your deep interest in this matter and look forward to a continued

engagement with you and others in Congress as we move forward with this proceeding.

Sincerely,

~£~-

Tom Wheeler

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