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By Lydia Beyoud
April 15 — The House passed a measure on April 15 that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from regulating rates for broadband Internet services.
The No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act (H.R. 2666) is the House Republicans' reaction to the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules. Those rules reclassified broadband Internet service providers under a stricter regulatory regime. The House passed the bill on a 241-173 vote that fell mostly along party lines. Only five Democrats voted for the measure, which is unlikely to advance in the Senate. The White House issued a veto threat on April 12.
Republicans said the bill, by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), was intended to codify the FCC's commitment not to regulate broadband service rates. Democrats have argued that the bill is overly broad and could harm a number of consumer protections and the FCC's enforcement powers.
The FCC declined to comment on the House action.
The New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute said in an e-mailed statement that the legislation could undermine the FCC's ability to review charges and unjust and unreasonable business practices, address issues related to zero-rating and data caps, and enforce certain merger conditions. OTI and other public interest groups earlier lobbied for the FCC to establish strict net neutrality rules.
Groups representing Internet service providers applauded the bill's passage. CTIA - The Wireless Association, a wireless industry trade group, said in an e-mail statement that the bill would “alleviate some the risk to competition and investment created by the FCC's Open Internet Order and in so doing, restore the certainty necessary for providers to increase their investment in new broadband infrastructure.”
There is no companion Senate legislation to the bill. However, other ISP trade groups said they were hopeful the Senate would soon take up the measure. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee declined to comment on when or if they will consider the legislation.
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