Pai Makes His Case for Title II Repeal

By Paula Bernier November 21, 2017
photo courtesy of BigStock

It’s a perennial favorite. Once again, the Federal Communications Commission is putting the spotlight on net neutrality.

But this time, the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction. And that is likely to lead to the reversal of rules created during the Obama administration that require broadband providers to give consumers equal access to all internet content.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, however, considers these so-called Title II rules a barrier to broadband investment, to bridging the digital divide, and to innovation. He said as much in a piece he authored for today’s issue of The Wall Street Journal.

Pai’s piece lays out his argument in preparation for the upcoming Dec. 14 meeting at which the FCC will consider his proposal to dismantle Title II. The proposal is expected to pass in a 3 to 2 vote along party lines.

Chairman Pai wrote that in the two years following the previous FCC’s decision to implement Title II, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6 percent. He also suggested that these rules are

• causing unserved and underserved customers to wait years to get more broadband;

• requiring smaller internet service providers, including members of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, to incur greater expense to comply with Title II rules and in the process delaying or reducing their network expansions;

• and prompting others to put new broadband builds on hold.

However, should Pai’s proposal pass as expected, large broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon will be the big winners.

That’s because it will free the big broadband outfits – among others – from current rules prohibiting them from blocking, charging more to deliver, or slowing the delivery of select content. Plus, it will enable them to give preferential treatment to their own content. That is noteworthy in light of AT&T’s ongoing attempt to buy Time Warner, Verizon’s recent Yahoo! acquisition, and the significant content assets of other big broadband companies like Comcast.

Verizon expressed its support of Pai’s effort on this front in a press release issued today. Comcast posted a blog applauding the chairman’s efforts to dismantle Title II. So did AT&T, whose bid to buy Time Warner is being challenged by the Department of Justice in what’s being called an unprecedented move.

AT&T’s blog, which the company attributed to Joan Marsh, said: “Tomorrow, the FCC will release a draft order that will bring to an end this country’s brief and ill-conceived experiment with heavy-handed regulation of the internet. Abandoning decades of prudent, bipartisan regulatory restraint, the Wheeler FCC took the draconian step of dragging broadband access services into the morass of common carriage regulation, imposing a new conduct standard that effectively gas the FCC a blank check to shut down innovative new ISP services that consumers want based on little more than speculative concerns.”

Public Knowledge, meanwhile, lays out the situation this way. The group’s Senior Vice President Harold Feld commented: “For almost 20 years, both Republican and Democratic FCC Chairmen have pledged to protect the right of broadband subscribers to access any lawful content or application, and to prevent the cable and telephone companies that provide the ‘on ramps’ to the internet from picking winners and losers. Today, for the first time, Chairman Pai proposes to leave internet subscribers completely unprotected by the FCC. Chairman Pai’s radical ‘Carriers First, Consumers Last’ approach puts broadband subscribers at the mercy of local cable companies whose ‘innovations’ have more to do with gouging consumers and crushing competition than with providing new services.”




Edited by Mandi Nowitz

Executive Editor, TMC

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Amid Cryptocurrency Mania, Coinsquare's goNumerical Raises CAD $10.5M

By: Paula Bernier    12/5/2017

The company that operates the Canadian digital currency exchange known as Coinsquare says it has raised CAD $10.5 million in new funding.

Read More

Your New Heart Monitor is an Apple Watch. Really.

By: Doug Mohney    12/4/2017

Looking at a new smartwatch or fitness wearable for the holidays? If you are concerned about your heart health due to family history or reason, Apple …

Read More

Amazon Unleashes Alexa for Business - Consequences Abound

By: Doug Mohney    11/30/2017

Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced Alexa for Business, bringing Amazon's intelligent assist into the office. This shouldn't be a surprise to T…

Read More

Pai Makes His Case for Title II Repeal

By: Paula Bernier    11/21/2017

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today made clear his plans to repeal Title II net neutrality rules. The commission is expected to pass his proposal at its Dec. …

Read More

Winners of the 2017 Tech Diversity Award Announced

By: TMCnet News    11/20/2017

TMC, a global, integrated media company helping clients build communities in print, in person and online, today announced the recipients of the 2017 T…

Read More