Say bye-bye to net neutrality next year, gloats FCC commish Pai

Promises to take 'weed wacker' to internet rules

Ajit Pai

In a speech to a right-wing think tank, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai explained how 2017 will be the year that net neutrality dies in the US, and that municipal networks can forget about existing as well.

On Wednesday, Pai gave a speech at the Free State Foundation in which he lambasted the FCC for taking on more responsibility than it was allowed by Congress in labelling internet provision as a Title II carrier service. This will change when President-elect Donald Trump takes office, he promised.

"Last month's election will prove to be an inflection point ... during the Trump Administration, we will shift from playing defense at the FCC to going on offense," Pai said.

"On the day that the Title II Order was adopted, I said that 'I don't know whether this plan will be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future Commission. But I do believe that its days are numbered.' Today, I am more confident than ever that this prediction will come true."

Pai complained that there "was no evidence of systemic failure in the Internet marketplace," despite the fact that US broadband speeds are falling behind other countries, over half of Americans have no choice between high-speed internet providers, and telcos are ramping up the use of data caps to boost profits.

Pai also praised court rulings that towns and cities can't be allowed to set up their own municipal networks if states have enacted legislation making the practice illegal. Towns in North Carolina and Tennessee have tried to set up networks, but have been blocked by telco-sponsored state legislation designed to stop competition with commercial suppliers.

"We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation," Pai enthused.

With the incoming administration the composition of the five-person FCC will change, with the Republicans replacing the current 3-2 Democratic majority. Pai promised great changes to come, but it's unclear if the proposed revisions will benefit consumers or the companies that sell to them. ®

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