In looking to promote and strengthen competition in America’s economy, Pres. Biden signed a sweeping Executive Order that implements changes in key industries. Containing a total of 72 initiatives for different industries, the long list includes orders for regulators of the telecom and technology industries to promote fair competition by implementing three important changes, namely:
- The Reinstatement of Neutrality Rules
- Maintain Transparency of Broadband Prices and Subscription Rates
- Eliminate Conditions that Deprive Consumers the “Right to Repair”
The Biden administration sees the promotion of fair competition as the force that will make capitalism work for the benefit of all and not just of the moneyed capitalists.
Reinstatement of Neutrality Rules
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been ordered to reinstate the neutrality rules that were introduced during the Obama administration, but subsequently repealed by ex-pres Donald Trump. Reinstating the said rules will prohibit providers of Broadband Internet Access Service (BIAS) to diminish Internet services by suppressing speeds, or by blocking access to selected websites or online services.
The White House fact sheet supporting the Executive Order gives emphasis on the Biden administration’s objectives in reinstating the neutrality rules. That is, to put and end to the practice of deliberately and discriminatorily slowing down Internet access, as supported by the Trump administration.
Maintain Transparency of Broadband Prices and Subscription Rates
The new Executive Order uges the FCC to promote price transparency by formulating rules that require BIAS providers to periodically report on broadband price rates and subscription charges. The FCC, will in turn, disseminate price information to the American public.
The new directive also calls for the elimination of early termination fees that BIAS providers charge on consumers who opt to shift to another service provider. On the average, Internet service providers charge $200 as early termination fees.
Additionally, Pres. Biden’s EO urges the FCC to revive the so-called Broadband Nutrition Label, which helps ensure that BIAS customers do not pay for hidden fees and add-ons unknowingly.
Eliminate Conditions that Deprive Consumers of the “Right to Repair”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is encouraged to introduce rules that would ensure the right of consumers to use a third party provider of repair services or to take on Do-It-Yourself repairs on their devices. While the order for “right to repair” seems broad ranging, the July EO specifically takes aim at manufacturers of mobile phones and other handheld communication devices.
As it is, manufacturers impose restrictions or incorporate designs or features that would preclude device users from bringing their units to third party repair shops, or to resort to DIY. This is quite important especially if the manufacturer’s repair fees are deemed too costly and time consuming due to the long queue of requests for repairs being handled by the manufacturer’s repair service centers.