The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Jan. 14 that key elements of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) 2010 Open Internet Order are invalid. The Order, otherwise known as Network Neutrality rules, prohibited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T from discriminating in network service delivered to content providers.
By tossing out the rules, ISPs are now free to charge content companies higher fees to deliver Internet traffic faster or otherwise more efficiently.
It remains to be seen what the response to this decision will be. The FCC may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court meaning that further litigation will delay the effects of the ruling. It is also possible that the FCC could reclassify broadband service as a common carrier thereby bringing ISPs within their regulatory authority. The FCC may also choose to utilize what is called section 706 authority to police anti-competitive harms by ISPs on a case-by-case basis.
The business of real estate is increasingly conducted on-line. Streaming video, virtual tours and voice-over-internet-protocol are just some of the technologies that are commonly used by REALTORS® today. In the future, new technologies will be adopted which will no doubt require unencumbered network access. For this reason, NAR supports network neutrality rules. We will work with the FCC and Congress to ensure a free and open Internet.
For more information on the importance of net neutrality to the real estate industry and NAR’s position, read the full issue brief.