FCC Net Neutrality Comment Period Closed — Now What?

After receiving a record number of comments on any single issue, the FCC now has to figure out what to do with all the data and how to handle the issue of net neutrality.

net neutrality

Since the FCC lost its court case against Verizon in January, the Internet has been mobilizing around the topic of net neutrality. Last week a host of sites rallied around a symbolic slowdown to raise awareness for net neutrality, and it seems that the FCC has never received so many comments on a single issue.

The campaign to preserve net neutrality has been ongoing in earnest since the decision, but the reality is that the same issues are at play now as have been at play for years. Title II reclassification — defining the Internet as a common carrier like phone services — is the core of this debate.

To date, the FCC has received more than three million comments on the matter of net neutrality. In August, data analysis firm Quid examined public opinion as the FCC extended the deadline for submissions due to technical failures cause by high volume of traffic. The major themes expressed included the government “being corrupted by corporate interests” and that a “pay-to-play” system would harm Internet diversity.

The comments have more than doubled since August, but the volume may not be representative of those in support of net neutrality. A counter campaign from StopInternetRegulation.com states:

The Internet is not a monopoly. And it is not a utility. And the federal government should keep away from it and let it, and the Americans who use it, remain free of government control and coercion.

That campaign has generated 808,000 petition signatures, according to PC World, and many of those users may have also been directed to the FCC’s comments system. However, an analysis of 800,959 of the comments received by the FCC revealed that “less than 1 percent of comments were clearly opposed to net neutrality.”

Now that the official comment period has closed, the FCC is left with the challenge of analyzing all this data. The agency is “pulling in employees from across the FCC to read comments and it will also use technology tools to analyze comments,” agency spokesperson Kim Hart told PC World.