FCC head lays out plan to overturn net neutrality

FCC head lays out plan to overturn net neutrality

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly.

The battle over net neutrality is about heat up again.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday said the commission will vote May 18 on a proposal to reverse the Open Internet rules passed two years ago by the FCC.

Those rules, which prevented Internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling or blocking content online, were passed by a Democrat-laden commission led by then Chairman Tom Wheeler. President Obama appointed Wheeler and supported the rules, which invoked Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 to give the FCC authority to oversee ISPs as "common carriers" and the Internet itself as a public utility.

But Pai, a Republican who voted against those rules as a commissioner and was named chairman by President Trump three months ago, said those regulations were heavy-handed, reduced investment in network expansion and slowed consumer access to faster broadband connections.

"When businesses cut back on capital expenditures, the areas that provide the most marginal returns on investment are the first to go," Pai said. "And in the case of broadband, that means low-income rural and urban neighborhoods.  As a result, Title II has kept countless consumers from getting better Internet access or getting access, period."

The FCC's vote would set in motion a rulemaking process on reversing the reliance on Title II and classification of broadband as a telecommunications service to "light-touch" regulatory oversight of Title I of the Act as an information service.

Pai made the announcement Wednesday at the Newseum in Washington at an event hosted by conservative-libertarian group FreedomWorks, which opposed the passage of the rules in 2015, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, which has supported the current FCC's regulatory reduction efforts.



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