On September 20, 2016, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly spoke at the International Bar Association Conference, where he talked about the FCC’s investigation of zero-rated services. Commissioner O’Rielly said that the ten-month investigation has suppressed the implementation of new pro-consumer offerings: “I have had conversations with industry participants that withheld new offerings because it isn’t worth being caught up in an FCC investigation. One company told me that their engineers came up with some new interesting ideas that were shot down almost immediately by their general counsel because of this rule. It is never a good thing when lawyers are dictating technology winners and losers, no offense to the lawyers in the room.”
Consumers benefit from more choices offered by their Internet service providers, but the FCC’s general conduct standard has discouraged ISPs from developing new services. It is time for the Commission to end its investigation of zero-rated services.