Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler gave an impassioned speech as he announced the FCC’s decision to embrace net neutrality.
“This proposal has been called by one opponent,” Wheeler said, referring to Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, “‘a secret plan to regulate the Internet.'”
He then shouted, “Nonsense!”
“This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech,” he said to great applause. “They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression, and an absence of gatekeepers telling people what they can do, where they can go, and what they can think.”
“The action we take today is about the protection of Internet openness,” he continued. “Let’s make no mistake about it. Broadband access providers have the technical ability and economic incentive to propose restrictions on the Internet.”
“As the DC circuit [court] said in the decision remanding this matter to us, ‘broadband providers represent a threat to Internet openness and could act in ways that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment.'”
“Today,” Wheeler said, “the majority of this commission establishes that will not come to pass. Today is a red-letter day for Internet freedom; for consumers who want to use the Internet on their terms; for innovators who want to reach those consumers without the control of gatekeepers; for a future in which there are rules to protect the Internet and its users.”
“The rules for a fair and open Internet are not old-style utility regulations,” he said, “but a 21st Century set of rules for a 21st Century service. Rate regulation, tariffing, and forced unbundling have been superseded by a modernized regulatory approach that has already been demonstrated to work in encouraging investment in wireless voice networks.”
“It is important for consumers,” he said, “that nothing in today’s order alters the economic model for continued network expansion. The [Internet Service Provider]’s revenue stream will be the same tomorrow as it was yesterday.”
Watch the entire panel via C-SPAN on YouTube below.