A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC's) Open Internet rules, arguing that the Commission lacked a key statutory authority to determine how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) regulate access to content. At issue is the concept of net neutrality. Consumer groups fear that the court's decision may lead to ISPs offering "tiered" services, or requiring consumers to pay more for faster service or to guarantee access to certain types of information. Providers believe it is essential that they be allowed to facilitate Internet traffic in a way that accommodates an ever increasing demand on networks.
What happens next will be worth watching as both the FCC and consumer groups consider an appeal to the decision. In addition, Congress could decide to intercede, passing legislation explicitly providing the FCC with the authority to act on this issue. In the House, the court's decision comes against the backdrop of the Energy & Commerce Committee's review of the Telecommunications Act and will impact the decisions it makes in its examination of current law.