FCC chairman expected to unveil strategy
to reverse net neutrality: sources
Send a link to a friend
[April 25, 2017]
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S.
Federal Communications Commission is expected to unveil his strategy
this week to overturn landmark 2015 net neutrality rules, a move that
will kickoff a new battle over the future of the internet.
Ajit Pai, who was named chair of the FCC by President Donald Trump in
January, will deliver a speech titled "The Future of Internet
Regulation" on Wednesday in Washington, the FCC said.
Sources said Pai is expected to announce that he will begin the process
of taking public comment to repeal the rules approved by the FCC under
President Barack Obama in early 2015. The FCC could hold an initial vote
on his proposal at the FCC's May 18 meeting, the sources said.
Pai's office declined to comment.
The rules approved by the FCC in 2015 prohibit broadband providers from
giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a "fast lane,"
to certain internet services over others. The 2015 FCC rules
reclassified internet service providers much like utilities. A federal
appeals court upheld the rules last year.
Internet providers like AT&T Inc <T.N>, Verizon Communications Inc
<VZ.N> and Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O> have argued net neutrality rules make
it harder to manage internet traffic and investment in additional
capacity less likely.
Advocacy group Free Press Chief Executive Craig Aaron said Monday Pai
wants to hand over control of the internet to providers "no matter the
cost to our economy and democracy."
Pai, who opposed the net neutrality reclassification in 2015, has
repeatedly said he backs a "free and open internet" but under a
different regulatory scheme.
Some analysts have said FCC action to roll back net neutrality rules
could put pressure Congress to adopt legislation that clarifies the
extent of FCC authority to regulate internet service.
FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly said on Thursday that Congress should
adopt legislation to resolve the issue and determine "whether there
should be rules."
[to top of second column]
Ajit Pai, Chairman of U.S Federal Communications Commission,
delivers his keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona,
Spain, February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Websites worry that without the rules they might lose access to
customers. Democrats and privacy advocates have said net neutrality
is crucial to keeping the internet open.
Reuters and other news outlets reported in early April that Pai was
moving quickly to replace neutrality rules.
Pai told reporters Thursday he has been meeting with major internet
companies and trade groups to discuss ways of protecting an open
"There's common ground here and there's room for an agreement here,"
Pai said. "Going forward we want to make sure that we have a light
touch regulatory framework."
It is not clear what alternative legal framework Pai may endorse to
guarantee an open internet.
The Internet Association, a group representing Facebook Inc <FB.O>,
Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O>, Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O> and others, met with
Pai this month and said "the internet industry is uniform in its
belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience,
competition, and innovation online," according to a letter filed
with the FCC.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Diane Craft)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.