Rule would reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and reinstate net neutrality protections

Washington (April 18, 2024) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Representative Anna Eshoo (CA-16), today at a press conference praised the upcoming FCC rule reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act and reinstating net neutrality protections. The FCC officially released the rule on April 4, and the Commission will vote on the final rule at its open meeting on April 25. 

Net neutrality is essential for all Americans to be able to freely communicate, seek jobs and telehealth care, run businesses, and more. The Trump administration had previously repealed the net neutrality rule, stripping away the protections of a free and open internet and eliminating the Commission’s rightful authority over broadband.  

“Over six years after the Trump FCC foolishly repealed the net neutrality rule, the FCC is on the verge of reinstating these critical protections and regaining the authority to oversee the most critical communication tool of our day: broadband,” said Senators Markey and Wyden. “This rulemaking is an overdue recognition that broadband – like water or electricity – is essential, and the FCC’s authority should reflect that. We commend Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the Commission staff for their hard work, diligence, and expertise, and we will continue to work with them to adopt and defend strong net neutrality protections.” 

“Americans should be able to use the internet without fear and without foreign adversaries posing legitimate threats to them on U.S. soil. We need to protect the growing innovation economy by making sure that we have rules that say you can’t throttle, you can’t slow down, and you can’t charge exorbitant fees just to have preferential treatment,” said Senator Cantwell. “I applaud the Chair for their work and look forward to working with her. I thank my colleagues, Senator Markey, who has been such a leader on this, and my dear friend, Anna Eshoo, for her unbelievable leadership in the House.” 

“I’ve advocated for a free and open internet since I came to Congress. Lack of an open internet has real life consequences. In 2018, while Santa Clara County firefighters were fighting one of the largest wildfires in California’s history, Verizon throttled their data speeds, slowing them down to one 200th of their normal speed, severely hindering their ability to communicate and putting people’s lives at risk. The FCC’s action to restore net neutrality is imperative for public safety, consumer protection, and American innovation,” said Congresswoman Eshoo.

“There are a lot of things in this country that divide us, but net neutrality is not one of them. Survey after survey showed that 80 percent of the public support the FCC’s national net neutrality rules and opposed their repeal.  Bringing back the FCC’s authority over broadband and putting back net neutrality rules is popular, and it has been court-tested and court-approved. It is good for consumers who count on broadband like never before, and it is important for public safety and national security. When the FCC votes next week, we have an opportunity to get this right. Because in a modern digital economy, it is time to have broadband oversight, national net neutrality rules and policies that ensure the internet is fast, open, and fair,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. 

In 2006, Senators Markey and Wyden introduced the first net neutrality bills in the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. On April 2, Senators Markey and Wyden, along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), sent a letter to the FCC urging it to finalize a strong net neutrality rule. In September 2023, Senators Markey and Wyden led 25 of their Senate colleagues calling on the FCC to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act and restore net neutrality protections. Senators Markey and Wyden previously introduced the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act, which would accurately classify broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II.