Elements of Net Neutrality Order Overturned

January 15, 2014

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia yesterday ruled that key elements of the Federal Communications Commissions’ 2010 Open Internet Order are invalid. The order, which sets forth what are known as network neutrality rules, prohibited Internet Service Providers like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T from discriminating in the network services they deliver to content providers.

By tossing out the rules, ISPs are free to charge content companies higher fees to deliver Internet traffic faster or in an otherwise more efficient way. This has potential implications for the real estate industry, since real estate companies and other industry providers act as content providers through their websites.

It remains to be seen what the response to this decision will be. The FCC may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, this additional litigation could delay the effects of the ruling. It is also possible that the FCC could reclassify broadband service as a common carrier, thereby bringing ISPs deeper within their regulatory authority.

The business of real estate is increasingly conducted online. Streaming video, virtual tours, and voice-over-Internet-protocol telephone service are just some of the technologies that are commonly used by REALTORS®. What’s more, new technologies will be adopted that are likely to require unencumbered network access. For this reason, NAR supports network neutrality and thus is looking carefully into the decision to toss out the rules. NAR will work with the FCC and Congress to ensure the Internet remains free and open.

--Melanie Wyne, NAR Government Affairs

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NAR's summary of the 2010 FCC net neutrality rules

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruling

Previous REALTOR® Magazine coverage of the net neutrality issue