February 16, 2021 – Federal Communications Commissioner Nathan Simington said Tuesday that serious conversations need to be had about reforming net neutrality rules.
Simington sits on a very different-looking FCC, which includes net neutrality advocates including Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Net neutrality regulations banning broadband providers from blocking or throttling internet traffic were repealed by the Trump Administration-era FCC in December 2017.
Speaking at a Free State Foundation event, Simington said that communications companies should be permitted to manipulate traffic for revenue – speeding up some traffic for whichever content provider pays – even though it exacerbates the oligopoly problem in the U.S. The reason? Many Americans don’t even have access to high-speed internet.
At the same time, he also argued that no broadband provider should be able to throttle data.
And he also argued that the internet should be treated like a utility with minimum standards, especially now that the pandemic has proved the importance of connectivity. “If utilities aren’t allowed to provide poor service, why should internet service providers be able to?” he said.
Simington also touched on the need for broadband infrastructure as people have become reliant on broadband at-home during the pandemic. “America’s hunger for wireless bandwidth has gone parabolic in the last 10 years,” he said.
Simington said that major players in the wired infrastructure industry are setting minimum bandwidth and latency – the speed of real-time communications – standards that would have seemed absurdly high just a few years ago.
Simington also said he believes funding and regulating infrastructure should be delegated properly between the state and federal government. States can and should have a role to play in regulating industries, he said.
Simington said he hopes that, in celebration of the 25-year anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that Congress considers a refresh of the law as newer technologies, such as video communication, emerges.