×
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

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

  • Coast Guard Lieutenant Hit List

    Coast Guard Lieutenant Targeted CNN, MSNBC Anchors and Democrats for Attacks

    Anchors at CNN and MSNBC and prominent Democrats were targeted for attack by a Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Friday on a firearms charge, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland. In court documents revealed Tuesday, prosecutors describe the firearms and controlled substance charges Christopher Paul Hasson is facing as “the proverbial tip of the iceberg.” CNN’s [...]

  • Jussie Smollett suspect

    Jussie Smollett Named a Suspect by Chicago Police for Filing False Report

    Chicago police have named “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime. Detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury, which is expected to determine whether to indict Smollett on a charge of filing a false police report. “Jussie [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    WGA, Agents Face Tough Issues on New Franchise Pact (Column)

    The Writers Guild of America and the major talent agencies are seven weeks away from a deadline that could force film and TV writers to choose between their agents and their union. This is a battle that has been brewing for a year but few in the industry saw coming until a few weeks ago. [...]

  • Island Records Names Christine Kauffman Senior

    Island Records Names Christine Kauffman Senior VP of Brand Partnerships

    Veteran advertising executive Christine Kauffman has been named senior VP of brand partnerships at Island Records, the company announced today. She will be based in New York and report to Island COO Eric Wong. In making the announcement, Island President Darcus Beese said, “The fast-paced and competitive field of strategic brand marketing has become an [...]

  • Latin Music Veteran Nir Serioussi Joins

    Latin Music Veteran Nir Serioussi Joins Interscope as Executive VP

    Interscope Geffen A&M announced today that veteran executive, producer and songwriter Nir Seroussi will join the company as executive vice president. The announcement was made by Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman and CEO John Janick, to whom Serioussi will report. (Seroussi, center, is pictured above with Janick, left, and Interscope EVP Joie Manda.) According to the [...]

  • Tan FranceUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los Angeles,

    'Queer Eye' Star Tan France to Host Audiobook Audie Awards

    “Queer Eye” resident style expert Tan France is taking on a slightly different project next month as he hosts the Audie Awards, which honors the best releases and achievements in audiobooks over the past 12 months. The ceremony, which takes place on March 4 in New York, is an annual event organized by the Audio [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content