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On Heels of BDS Regulation Rollback, FCC to Consider Gutting Net Neutrality

By Edward Gately
April 26, 2017 - News
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Edward GatelyThe Federal Communications Commission last week voted to significantly ease regulatory requirements in the $45 billion business data services (BDS) market, and now Chairman Ajit Pai has announced a plan to roll back net neutrality rules.

During a speech Wednesday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined a plan to reduce the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers. Two years ago, the Commission adopted regulations that treat broadband as a telecommunications service, prohibit blocking and slowing down of Web content, and ban Internet providers from prioritizing certain traffic.

“The FCC, on a party-line vote, decided to impose a set of heavy-handed regulations upon the internet," Pai said. “It decided to slap an old regulatory framework called ‘Title II’ – originally designed in the 1930s for the Ma Bell telephone monopoly – upon thousands of Internet service providers, big and small. It decided to put the federal government at the center of the internet. Two years ago, I warned that we were making a serious mistake. Most importantly, I said that Title II regulation would reduce investment in broadband infrastructure. It’s basic economics: The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get."

Pai said his plan will bring high-speed internet access to more Americans, create jobs, boost competition and better protect online privacy.

“Do we want the government to control the Internet?" he said. “Or do we want to embrace the light-touch approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress in 1996, and repeatedly reaffirmed by Democratic and Republican FCCs alike?"

At its May 18 meeting, the FCC will consider a notice of proposed rulemaking, and if adopted, the Commission will seek public input on this proposal.

Kathy Grillo, Verizon’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel, public policy and government affairs, said the telco supports both net neutrality and Pai’s proposal to roll back Title II utility regulation on broadband.

“Title II (or public utility regulation) is the wrong way to ensure net neutrality; it undermines investment, reduces jobs and stifles innovative new services," she said. “And by locking in current practices and players, it actually discourages the increased competition consumers are demanding."

CenturyLink said Pai’s plan offers a “long-sought-after solution to the problem of over-regulating the Internet and helping the internet ecosystem continue to evolve to meet growing consumer demand."

The Internet Association, a group that represents more than 40 top Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix, said the current rules are working and “these consumer protections should not be changed."

“The existing 2015 open Internet order protects consumers from ISPs looking to play gatekeeper or prioritize their own ...

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