Observers with an eye toward regulatory rollback have been listening carefully to any remarks FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made around Title II since taking the post back in January. That’s because he’s definitely no fan of the Commission’s 2015 decision to reclassify broadband internet access as a telecom service and subject to Title II regulation. Back when he was an FCC Commissioner, he was extremely vocal in his opposition, and he underlined those strong feelings again on Thursday before an audience of small- and mid-sized operators at the American Cable Association’s Summit 24 in Washington, D.C.
“I think you know, given what I’ve said over the past several years, including 67 pages of it two years ago, what I think of Title II.” Pai says. “I favor free and open internet. I oppose the imposition of heavy-handed economic regulations.”
The FCC Chair further noted that he wants to ensure there’s incentive to invest and innovate in networks, and pointed to the Clinton Administration’s framework of regulation with a lighter touch as a way he thinks that gets done. And what if a company acted in an uncompetitive way? “The government can always take targeted action to address that issue. But to pre-emptively declare every company − from the big cable companies all the way down to Main Street Broadband, which is an ISP … with four customers, and declare them anticompetitive monopolists from the get-go seems to me an overreach,” he suggests.
Earlier in the week at the ACA Summit, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also reiterated his opinions around Title II regulation. Like Pai, he’s expressed deep opposition in the past, and O’Rielly told attendees at the conference that he hopes the FCC has the opportunity to reopen that decision this year, and suspects it will.
Pai also used the ACA Summit to speak to an order he circulated that would revise a condition on the Charter merger, which requires it to overbuild approximately one million locations. Of course, this was of particular interest to ACA members since many of them have already built systems in those areas.
“To me, it’s pretty simple. It’s as if the FCC took two people to a restaurant. To one they said ‘You will get two entrees, and the other will do without.’ … That’s what the overbuilding condition does,” he explains. “The last thing we want to do is penalize you for the investments you’ve already made and dis-incentivize you from doing it in the future. We would rather get everyone online as opposed to a small field.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations