×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

FCC Chairman and His Predecessor Set the Stage for Another Battle Over Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is no fan of the agency’s current approach to net neutrality, and on Tuesday, he made it clear that loosening the current regulations is on his agenda.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Pai said that it has become “evident that the FCC made a mistake” in its passage of net neutrality rules in 2015, in which the agency reclassified internet service as a common carrier. Pai, along with other critics of the move, consider the approach “last-century, utility-style regulation to today’s broadband networks.”

“Our new approach injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market. And uncertainty is the enemy of growth,” Pai said at the event. “After the FCC embraced utility-style regulation, the United States experienced the first-ever decline in broadband investment outside of a recession.”

He said that the agency was now “on track” to return to what he called “light touch” regulation.

Pai has not said how he will pursue a revise or repeal of the rules. In his speech, he said that they “recognize that government does have a role to play when it comes to broadband.”

“So our approach will be not zero regulation, but light-touch regulation — rules backed by long-standing principles of competition law,” he said.

Pai, however, will likely face opposition to any effort to repeal or weaken the rules, as Democrats on Capitol Hill already have held a press conference to warn of such a move and public interest groups have been mobilizing for a new battle for the open internet. And Pai’s predecessor, Tom Wheeler, already is showing a willingness to speak out against such an action.

After ending his tenure on Jan. 20 and taking a vacation in Cabo San Lucas with his wife, Wheeler has been vocal in criticizing the FCC’s new direction when it comes to the internet. He, too, was at the Barcelona conference, and told Bloomberg on Tuesday that “it is highly dangerous to let four companies, which is basically what we have in the United States, four internet service providers, to determine who will be able to get on their networks.”

“We can’t be in a situation where someone who owns the pipes determines what is going on, what’s going over those pipes,” he said.

The net neutrality debate has stretched on for more than a decade. The FCC is on its third approach to rules of the road for the internet. Now we may be in for another battle — and this may be the most contentious yet.

Update: Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, says that Pai is wrong in claiming that the 2015 rules have depressed broadband investment.

“Pai’s frequent charge that investment has declined is based on the claims made by one industry-paid analyst, who selectively edits the figures reported by some of these companies. But if you take account of the industry’s spending as a whole, you’ll see that broadband-industry investment was nearly 9 percent higher in the two years following the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order than it was in the two years prior.

“What’s more, these industry aggregate totals don’t tell the whole story. Individual companies large and small significantly increased their broadband-infrastructure investments following the rules’ adoption. Comcast, the nation’s largest ISP, has invested far more in the two years following the FCC’s order as the company has rolled out the next generation of cable-modem service. Smaller providers like Cincinnati Bell have increased their investments in fiber-to-the-home technology. And all wireless carriers have invested in completing their 4G deployments and preparing for 5G.”

The whole issue of broadband investment is something that has been a source of dispute among FCC commissioners. Then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and Pai, then a commissioner, fought over competing claims at a congressional hearing in March.

 

More Biz

  • US Capitol

    Congress Introduces AM-FM Act to Revise Copyright Law for Terrestrial Radio

    Senator Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Jerrold Nadler today introduced the Ask Musicians for Music Act (AM-FM), which aims to revise existing copyright law for radio stations and musicians. Under the current copyright system, radio stations can use sound recordings over their airwaves without paying royalties to creators who own a stake in the sound recordings. [...]

  • Harriet Tubman Cynthia Erivo

    AMC Theatres Fires Three Employees Over Racial Profiling Incident During 'Harriet' Screening

    AMC Theatres has fired three employees in one of its Louisiana multiplexes after an incident during a screening of “Harriet.” An African American women’s group called the 504 Queens allege that 15 members were racially profiled while watching “Harriet” at AMC’s Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie on Nov. 7. A letter sent from the organization’s [...]

  • Byron Allen

    Byron Allen's Discrimination Suit Against Comcast Should Be Allowed to Move Forward

    More than anything, the Supreme Court justices seemed bemused. Comcast executives and entrepreneur Byron Allen came to the nation’s high court on Nov. 13 to duke it out over the racial discrimination case that Allen’s Entertainment Studios has pursued since 2015.  But the question put before the court was a narrow issue of legal precedent [...]

  • Courtney Kemp Agboh'Power' TV show final

    Christine Baranski, Karey Burke and Courtney Kemp Set for Brandon Tartikoff Awards

    Christine Baranski, “Power” creator and showrunner Courtney Kemp and ABC Entertainment chief Karey Burke are among the five recipients set for the 2020 Brandon Tartikoff Awards, to be handed out in January as part of the annual NATPE conference in Miami. Jeff Zucker, chairman of news and sports for WarnerMedia and president of CNN Worldwide, [...]

  • BMI’s Charlie Feldman Retiring After 31

    BMI’s Charlie Feldman Retiring After 31 Years With Company

    Charlie Feldman, BMI’s Vice President of Creative in New York, announced today that he will retire from the company at the end of the year. A 31-year veteran of BMI, Feldman will continue to consult for the company in the new year, according to the announcement. Mike O’Neill, President and CEO of BMI, said, “I [...]

  • Chuck Lorre, Scott Stuber to Keynote

    Chuck Lorre, Scott Stuber to Keynote Variety Innovate Summit

    “The Big Bang Theory” co-creator and TV producer Chuck Lorre and the head of Netflix Films Scott Stuber will keynote Variety’s Innovate Summit presented by PwC on Dec. 5 in Los Angeles. Lorre will share the career experiences that lead to his co-creating and executive producing “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon” and “Mom.” Lorre’s extensive [...]

  • Adele Haenel Adèle Haenel

    Accusations Against Roman Polanski, Other Filmmakers Propel #MeToo in France

    When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two years ago, the news was mostly met in France with a Gallic shrug. Screen icon Catherine Deneuve even denounced the #MeToo movement as creating a “totalitarian” environment. But bombshell accusations this month from actors Adèle Haenel and Valentine Monnier may finally have turned the tide in the local film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content