FCC head Ajit Pai set to oppose Obama-era net neutrality rules; support broadband providers

By: Bloomberg | Published:November 21, 2017 2:46 pm[1]

US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will propose vacating Obama-era net neutrality rules. (Image Source: Bloomberg)

US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will propose vacating Obama-era net neutrality rules, according to a person briefed on the development that will hand a victory to broadband providers such as AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp that oppose the regulations. Pai’s proposal is to be presented to fellow FCC commissioners Tuesday ahead of a vote set for December 14 at the agency, where the chairman – an appointee of President Donald Trump – leads a Republican majority. Pai will seek to vacate the rules adopted in 2015, retaining only a portion that requires broadband providers to explain details of the service they are offering, said the person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the proposal isn’t yet public.

Rules to be set aside include a ban on blocking or slowing web traffic, and a prohibition on offering “fast lanes” that give quicker service to content providers willing to pay extra. Broadband providers have argued that competition will ensure they don’t unfairly squelch traffic. Tina Pelkey, an FCC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Pai’s proposal is the latest step in a years-long tug-of-war over regulations dictating how companies such as AT&T and Comcast allow access to internet content – from Facebook[2] Inc’s social media site to Netflix Inc’s streaming videos. Supporters including Silicon Valley firms argue the rules are needed to keep network owners from favoring their own content and discouraging web startups. Critics say the rules discourage investment while exposing companies to a threat of heavier regulation including pricing mandates.

The regulation survived a court challenge from broadband providers last year.

Previous attempts by the FCC to pass such rules ended with courts tossing them out or sending them back to be rewritten.

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