Restoring the Federal Communications Commission’s Legal Authority to Oversee the Broadband Market

Author: Gigi Sohn


The next leadership team of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must prioritize restoring the agency’s authority to protect consumers and competition in the broadband market. Under the next administration, FCC leadership should quickly commence a proceeding proposing to reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This reclassification puts the FCC on the firmest legal ground to

  1. Restore or strengthen the 2015 network neutrality rules that prohibit providers of broadband Internet access from blocking, throttling, or otherwise discriminating against certain Internet traffic

  2. Fund broadband through the FCC’s four universal service programs

  3. Protect consumers from fraud and privacy violations

  4. Promote broadband competition, and

  5. Protect public safety.

FCC leadership should simultaneously work with Congress to develop legislation to codify this authority as law, thereby protecting against potential future reversals.

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About the Author

Gigi Sohn is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable, and democratic communications networks. She is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology, Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow & Public Advocate. Gigi is the host of the "Tech on the Rocks” podcast. She served as Counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from 2013–2016, and as Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Public Knowledge, a public interest organization that promotes freedom of expression, an open internet and access to affordable communications networks from 2001-2013.