The Federal Communications Commission has taken the first step toward regulating ISPs by requiring that they provide broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps to customers.
The order, which was issued on Tuesday, comes on the heels of the FCC’s announcement earlier this month that it would regulate broadband service in the same manner it does mobile networks.
ISPs are already required to provide a certain level of speed for all customers, but the order will require ISPs to provide up to a 10Mbps download speed to customers who sign up for their service.
The FCC is required to consider whether the speed offered by ISPs is faster than the speeds provided by the mobile networks in its jurisdiction.
The order, if approved by the FCC, would make it a violation of the Communications Act for an ISP to offer a faster download speed than the speed that a consumer could obtain through the broadband service that they use.
The orders goal would be to “ensure that consumers are not unfairly disadvantaged by the lack of speed in a given service provider’s network,” the FCC said.
“The Commission will require broadband providers to provide consumers with at least a 10 Mbps download speed, regardless of whether that speed is available through their broadband service.”
While the FCC may have to reclassify ISPs under Title II, the new rules will likely still not have a major impact on ISPs.
ISPs already receive billions in government subsidies to deliver broadband service, and the FCC is still only required to regulate ISPs in the ways it does telecoms.
It would be extremely difficult to regulate an ISP as a single entity, as many of the rules that it has already issued are similar to those of the telecoms they serve.
For example, the FCC has also proposed rules to prohibit ISPs from charging customers for faster than 10Mbps speeds, which is exactly what Comcast and Verizon have been doing.
This is the same kind of business practice that ISPs have been charging their customers for years, even as the Federal Communications Commision has stated that it is “prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, or national origin in the provision of broadband Internet service.”
This has been a recurring theme in the debate over the FCC regulation of ISPs.
While the FCC does not have the power to enforce a specific policy, the Commission’s Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly argued that the Commission is able to enforce “consumer protections” against ISPs that are not included in the Telecommunications Act.