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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Robert McDowell Discusses Net Neutrality at International Telecom Event in Mexico

December 10, 2015

Robert M. McDowell, former FCC commissioner and a partner in Wiley Rein’s Telecom, Media & Technology Practice, spoke recently at an international telecommunications policy and industry event in Mexico City, which examined competition challenges in the telecom and broadcasting markets. Mr. McDowell’s presentation focused on U.S. net neutrality rules that represent an unprecedented government intervention into the Internet ecosphere.

Two Mexican government officials—Commissioner Maria Elena Estavillo Flores of the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) and Commissioner Eduardo Martinez Chombo of the Federal Competition Commission—were among the distinguished speakers who joined Mr. McDowell on the panel. The conference also featured a keynote from Frédéric Jenny, a judge at the Supreme Court of France and chair of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Competition Law and Policy Committee.

Mr. McDowell, who served on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2006 to 2013, was invited to speak at the December 3 conference by the IFT, an independent government agency whose role in Mexico is comparable to that of the FCC in the United States.

Net neutrality rules that took effect in June 2015 through the FCC’s Open Internet Order have saddled the tech economy with antiquated, utility-style regulations, Mr. McDowell said during the panel discussion. He explained that the order, which reclassified broadband Internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, will deter innovation and investment in broadband networks.

During his seven years as an FCC commissioner, Mr. McDowell voted against two previous attempts by the agency to issue net neutrality rules. Wiley Rein represents two clients in a net neutrality challenge before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; they are among a group of petitioners urging the court to vacate this year’s rules.