Wheeler: FCC Has Authority to Regulate Broadband Rates

Explains to House panel how that squares with FCC forbearance 3/22/2016 12:53:00 PM Eastern

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told a congressional panel Tuesday that he did believe the FCC has the authority to regulate broadband rates after the fact.

That came in an FCC oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee.

He was asked by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), whose bill preventing broadband rate regulation passed a divided House Energy & Commerce Committee last week.

Wheeler had initially said he supported the underlying theme of preventing broadband rate regs, but he has since clarified in a letter that he was talking specifically about Congress codifying the FCC's Open Internet order forbearance of ex ante (before the fact) rate regulations, not other authorities like preventing anticompetitive paid prioritization or throttling that might implicate rates.

Wheeler and House Democrats are concerned that Kinzinger's bill is not targeted enough and could sweep in various consumer protections, like those in the Open Internet order.

Following the hearing, the press office for the House Energy & Commerce Committee majority issued a release pointing to Wheeler's support for FCC ex post facto rate regulation authority via enforcement, saying it contradicts prior administration promises not to regulate broadband rates.

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