In the earlier meeting, the FCC passed a proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that established laws for Internet conduct known as the Open Internet, reclassified the Internet as a telecommunications service, and removed barriers placed on municipal broadband networks in states such as Tennessee and North Carolina.
Since that time, the FCC has published the new rules and has undergone numerous legal conflicts. The United States Senate and House of Representatives have debated if the FCC has the legal right to make these changes.
Although the FCC Commissioners did not make an appearance, two members from the Wireline Competition Bureau's Competition Policy Division, and two from the Media Bureau's Policy Division, spoke in the live meeting.
Daniel Kahn, Deputy Chief for Wireline Competition Bureau, stated that there was strong evidence to support the development of municipal broadband networks. Under the new definition of broadband, 72 percent of users nationwide had access to two or fewer broadband providers, while 16 percent had no access to broadband services.
Kahn also stated that studies performed on the effects of broadband networks showed that ISPs in the private sector in competition with municipal broadband networks reduced service rates and increased spending on developing better networks.
Fellow Deputy Chief for the Wireline Competition Bureau, Claude Aiken, reiterated the main points of the Open Internet. Afterwards, Aiken and the remaining speakers, Diana Sokolow and Steven A. Broeckaert, reaffirmed the FCC's legal right and position to make these changes.
The FCC is responsible for ensuring the continued advancement of the Internet and promoting competition between providers of that service. The FCC has deemed that to advance the Internet, restrictions cannot be placed on services that use the Internet, or the ability of users to access the Internet for any legal purpose.
The information presented today is mostly a reiteration of the information presented in the earlier FCC documents on the Open Internet and the FCC's February 26 live meeting. The reason why the agency held today's meeting was to help inform and reaffirm to the public the FCC's stance on the Open Internet, despite the legal hassles it's facing.
If the U.S. legislative branch and the many companies in opposition to the Open Internet are successful, then the FCC's Open Internet decision will be overturned and revoked. However, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in a meeting held March 27 at Ohio State University, stated that he believes that the FCC's decision will stand.