ISPs, Lawmakers Sure to Oppose FCC Title II Net Neutrality Rules
If Congress passed such legislation, it would eliminate any future court challenges regarding the FCC's authority regarding network neutrality, but the big question is whether both the House of Representatives and the Senate will approve such legislation. That may be easier said than done. The big bump in the road to this enabling legislation resides with Senate Republicans, some of whom have said in the past that they're opposed to net neutrality rules as an impediment to business. There is even strong doubt that the legislation will even make it to a vote in the Senate, since individual members can move to block it anywhere along the review process. And even if Senate passes the legislation, it has to go to the House for a vote, which is less likely to look on net neutrality rules favorably. There is a cadre of new members of the House who have announced opposition to net neutrality, and there is a substantial minority who will oppose it simply because the president wants it. While these legislators aren't in the majority, they can prevent passage of a bill that's not a priority for the House leadership.According to Wheeler, a couple of the major ISPs are strongly opposed to the idea of moving ISPs under Title II. Those carriers are likely AT&T and Verizon, both of which have significant businesses in the ISP realm. Comcast, on the other hand, has gone on record as favoring net neutrality, probably because it agreed to it as part of its merger with NBC. Even if these major ISPs don't oppose regulation of the Internet under Title II, it is a virtual certainty that some company will. There may well be other court battles as well claiming some other deficiency in how the FCC decides to control the Internet. The eventual source of the opposition doesn't matter, but that fact that there is always opposition somewhere does matter. Without authorizing legislation, it's entirely possible that any one of the potential court challenges could put net neutrality on the sidelines for years. Regardless of whether you think net neutrality is a good thing, the resulting years of uncertainty about net neutrality will slow down growth and innovation in the U.S. Internet industry, and that's not a good thing at all.
The end result could easily mean that any enabling legislation providing cover for the FCC could be a long way off. Without such legislation, the FCC is open to another round of court challenges, any one of which could scuttle net neutrality for good.