FCC Strikes Down Net Neutrality

By Paula Bernier December 14, 2017

The FCC today successfully did away with net neutrality. The initiative, which was passed in a 3 to 2 vote along party lines, was expected. But for those who were sold long ago on the idea that the internet exists – er, existed – to create a level playing field for all people and content that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by President Trump, framed the effort as a move to dismantle so-called government overreach and, in the process, encourage broadband investment to bridge the digital divide and encourage innovation.

In a recent Wall Street Journal piece laying out his case for today’s FCC vote, 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 those rules, put in place during the Obama administration

  • caused unserved and underserved customers to wait years to get more broadband;
  • required 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 prompted others to put new broadband builds on hold.

However, many other parties don’t see it that way. Instead, many folks see the dismantling of network neutrality as a way to hand more power to the already powerful big telcos and cablecos. And that will enable these industry giants – which continue to amass digital content – to give preferential treatment to their own content and services.

In a last ditch effort to prevent the FCC’s move, Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Steve Wozniak, and a bunch of other internet pioneers submitted a joint letter that says the effort to eliminate net neutrality protections indicates a basic misunderstanding by the commission of how the internet works.

“The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create,” the letter says. “It should be stopped.”

It was not.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Executive Editor, TMC

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