FCC Chairman Pai on Wednesday outlined a new plan to repeal the FCC’s 2015 Title II regulations, prompting a wave of responses from industry figures and consumer groups alike.
The move was – perhaps predictably – cheered by dominant U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon as well as ISPs like Comcast, and industry groups like the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), Internet Innovation Alliance, and NCTA. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson called the FCC’s 2015 move to Title II classification “illogical” and heralded a return to the “bipartisan, light-touch regulatory approach” that “brought American consumers unparalleled investment in broadband infrastructure, created jobs, and fueled economic growth.”
“We applaud FCC Chairman Pai’s initiative to remove this stifling regulatory cloud over the internet,” Stephenson commented. “Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation’s broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai’s leadership. And we are hopeful that bipartisan agreement can be reached on principles that protect internet openness, consumer choice, and vibrant competition.”
Verizon seconded AT&T’s praise of the move, noting its support for both net neutrality and Pai’s decision to roll back Title II regulation.
“Title II (or public utility regulation) is the wrong way to ensure net neutrality; it undermines investment, reduces jobs, and stifles innovative new services. And by locking in current practices and players, it actually discourages the increased competition consumers are demanding,” Kathy Grillo, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel for public policy and government affairs, said. “Verizon supports net neutrality policies that protect an open internet without discouraging competition and slowing job-generating investments. We continue to believe that the right answer is for Congress to move forward on legislation that once and for all adopts clear, enforceable, and strong net neutrality protections.”
Interestingly, that call for Congressional action was echoed by the opposition as well.
CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery observed net neutrality’s fate has been uncertain for too long “due to changes in leadership and politics.” The only path to stability, he said, is action from Congress to “provide innovators with a level playing field and industry with the certainty to make technology and investment decisions.”
Other net neutrality advocates vowed to fight Pai’s plan every step of the way.
Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said gutting the Title II regulations will rob Americans of “protections that preserve their access to the open and free internet,” and called on Pai to back off.
“If Ajit Pai thinks that destroying net neutrality is going to be easy, he’s very, very wrong,” Digital rights group Fight for the Future said in a statement. “Internet users will fight tooth and nail to defend our basic right to connect, create, learn, and share.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations