Thursday, July 9, 2015

A message from Congressman Wittman





July 9, 2015






Mr. Robert B. Alexander, Jr.

615 Carys Chapel Rd
Yorktown, VA 23693-2509


Dear Mr. Alexander:


Thank you for contacting my office to express your views regarding the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) decision to issue new rules on net neutrality. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this issue. I value your views on the important issues facing our Commonwealth and the Nation.


A major point of contention when discussing telecommunications reform is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet; at issue is whether it is necessary for the Federal government to take steps to ensure access to the Internet for content, services, and applications providers, as well as consumers, and if so, what these steps should be.


As you know, on February 26, 2015, the FCC voted in favor of reclassifying broadband internet service from a Title I "information service" to a Title II "telecommunications service" under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Often referred to as "net neutrality", this reclassification is designed to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, as an effort to promote the goals of equal access and non-discriminatory treatment. According to a recent fact sheet issued by the FCC, the 332 page plan is an effort spearheaded by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to provide "clear, sustainable, enforceable rules to preserve and protect the open Internet as a place for innovation and free expression". The rules released by the FCC on March 12, 2015 are set to go in to effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.


Like you, I am opposed to this approach to achieve so called "net neutrality" and the decision by the FCC to adopt new open Internet rules. This vote establishes a concerning precedent for the FCC going forward, by allowing not just control over pricing and speed of the internet, but also content, and therefore restricting the freedoms of the American people.


There have been two previous attempts by the FCC to completely reclassify and control the Internet through net neutrality and both times the DC court of appeals struck down the FCC's efforts. In 2007, under a new net neutrality policy statement, the FCC ruled that Comcast despite being a Title I service, restricted customer's ability to access certain networks and therefore violated their right to run applications of their choice, a rule commonly held for Title II services. In response, the court held that in no capacity did the FCC hold authority to regulate Title I services. In 2014, under the impetus of a new "Open Internet Order" by the FCC to apply regulatory methods to broadband internet services, Verizon Corp challenged this order in the DC Circuit. The court held that since broadband services were classified as a Title I information service, not a Title II telecommunications service, broadband internet service providers were not subject to net neutrality rules effectively nullifying the FCC's order.


This decision completely rewrites the rulebook on how broadband services are defined and is contrary to decisions by the courts which have ruled against the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet in the past. Like you, I am concerned that as a result of this decision, the American people will pay higher taxes and see less competitive pricing when it comes to internet providers.  Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should legislation blocking the FCC regulations come before the House of Representatives for a vote.


Thank you again for sharing your views and opinions with me. I am committed to serving you to the best of my abilities. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to call me at (202) 225-4261 or contact me online at:

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