The FCC's New Network Semi-Neutrality Order Maintains Inconsistency in the Broadband World

June 16, 2012

On December 23, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a new Internet Order designed to regulate broadband access providers to further the principle of networkneutrality. The Order imposes regulations on broadband access providers for the first time, seeking to maintain the free and open character of the Internet by preventing this relatively new class of Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) from discriminating in the type of content that travels over its network. The Order divides broadband access providers into two categories, fixed and mobile, imposing fewer restrictions on the latter. The rules impose transparency requirements for both, but prohibit only fixed broadband providers from discriminating or blocking any legal content. The disparity of regulation between these two creates a sort of network semi-neutrality rather than a true neutrality in the broadband access market. This article posits that the FCC has not gone far enough in its Order and defends the rules against challenges to the Commission’s authority and its decision to regulate the broadband access market.