FCC Chairman Announces Plan To Repeal Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a proposal today among fellow commissioners to roll back Title II classification of internet access providers in a planned Dec. 14 vote. That means they will no longer be considered common carriers subject to mandatory access requirements. The current guidelines were put in place in 2015 to prevent internet service providers from creating “fast lanes” or slowing down content from certain outlets. The chairman voted against the 2015 Open Internet order as a commissioner and signaled early on that repealing the order was one of his top priorities.

In a statement, Pai said “For almost twenty years, the internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress. Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades.” His proposal requires ISPs to be public about their practices of regulating internet traffic. Pai is expected to have the votes to pass it over strong Democratic opposition.

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Todd Erwin

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22 Comments

  1. Not a shock to anyone, sadly. Get ready for tiered Internet service.

    "Shop at Amazon? That's our Gold Package and an extra $5. Watch Netflix? That's our Platinum Premium Package, which is an extra $20. Think it's too much? Sorry! We're your only option for Internet service in your area."

  2. Brian Kidd

    Not a shock to anyone, sadly. Get ready for tiered Internet service.

    "Shop at Amazon? That's our Gold Package and an extra $5. Watch Netflix? That's our Platinum Premium Package, which is an extra $20. Think it's too much? Sorry! We're your only option for Internet service in your area."

    The public will take all kinds of nonsense but I could see literal riots in the streets if they try to do that. As crazy as it is, people see the internet as a right and if companies try to pull that kind of thing (and I think they will), people will flip out. And not to get political but good luck to anyone running for re-election after they vote in favor of getting rid of net neutrality.

  3. TravisR

    And not to get political but good luck to anyone running for re-election after they vote in favor of getting rid of net neutrality.

    I think the problem is that no one who is directly elected by the public gets to vote on this – it's all on the FCC commissioners, who are appointed rather than elected. So I'm not sure that it'll trickle down to the politicians that we directly elect.

    This could potentially backfire on content providers as well. Netflix, for instance, at one point was paying internet service providers for better access to their pipes (and may still be for all I know) — that's one of the reasons that Netflix streaming is generally rock solid, while Hulu or Vudu or other services might have more buffering or dropouts during busier hours of the day. If the consumer isn't able to stream a movie on iTunes or Vudu anymore, or unable to watch a show on Hulu without delays, when it was something they used to do, I think they're gonna be just as likely to blame the app service as the internet provider. They'll say "Netflix works all the time" (without realizing that Netflix pays extra for that privilege) and demand the same, and then those other companies and services will be forced to make the same kind of payouts, otherwise they'll be stuck with reputations as services that "don't work". And once you get a bunch of companies paying extra for something they used to get for free, they'll start objecting to these changes.

  4. Josh Steinberg

    I think the problem is that no one who is directly elected by the public gets to vote on this – it's all on the FCC commissioners, who are appointed rather than elected. So I'm not sure that it'll trickle down to the politicians that we directly elect.

    Shows how dumb I am, I thought it had to be approved by lawmakers. If this is solely a call by the FCC, I see why a plan that is so greedy, senselessly ridiculous and clearly doomed to failure is being trotted out. It's so one guy can bask in the (undeserved) praise when he tells the FCC to reverse its decision.

  5. Josh Steinberg

    I think the problem is that no one who is directly elected by the public gets to vote on this – it's all on the FCC commissioners, who are appointed rather than elected. So I'm not sure that it'll trickle down to the politicians that we directly elect.

    Perhaps not directly, but as per google…

    The FCC is directed by five commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate for five-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The U.S. President designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman.

    Make of that what you will.

    – Walter.

  6. TravisR

    Shows how dumb I am, I thought it had to be approved by lawmakers.

    I think the FCC commissioners, who are appointed by the president, have to be approved by congress so at some point, electoral politics come into play, but I'm not sure that it's something people think about when they choose their candidates for congress.

  7. I'm not going to say the sky is falling just yet. Didn't the neutrality rules just take effect in 2015? I don't recall any major issues prior to that. Plus, providers have to know if they abuse the system, a future administration will just flip the switch back again.

    1. Malcolm – from 2005-2014, the FCC handled the Internet with the assumption of Neutrality, and that resulted in several cases handling it as an information service. This also led to the FCC fighting off attempts by Comcast, AT&T and others to box out or change services.

      ( https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/12/comcast-throws-16-million-at-p2p-throttling-settlement.ars )

      This resulted in some thoughts about how added on services would be handled on the internet, specifically VOIP, Streaming Services, etc. which were prior managed under different rules. So, the question became about competing content. Let’s say you subscribe to Spectrum Internet, but you have DirecTV Now. If Spectrum sells you your internet at 50Mbs, can they undersell or sell you less if you are streaming DirectTV Now?

      The original method was fine; but then court cases re-established what created valid internet service. Your 3G phone became valid internet services; so single-stop cable companies where they were the only provider in town were able to say that their blocking content wasn’t a monopolistic practice, since you had another option – your cell phone.

      And then new rules about Net Neutrality came into play. And that’s where we were from 2015-to today.

      We just solved one problem when the providers figured out how to break through the old way, that loophole got closed, and now they brought it all the way back with no limits at all as to how and what they charge you for in internet service

  8. Josh Steinberg

    I think the FCC commissioners, who are appointed by the president, have to be approved by congress so at some point, electoral politics come into play, but I'm not sure that it's something people think about when they choose their candidates for congress.

    If it happens, I could imagine every person running in one political party would point the finger at the opposing party and say that the entire group was to blame for why internet prices have shot up. Incorrect or not, it would be such an easy thing to exploit for votes that people would definitely use it.

  9. So called net neutrality assumes that government "knows" what the cost of internet service "should" be. It also assumes that government is a "neutral" party when it imposes regulation. Both are invalid assumptions, as seen when one studies the history of government regulation and attempts to dictate price instead of relying on market forces.

  10. RobertR

    So called net neutrality assumes that government "knows" what the cost of internet service "should" be. It also assumes that government is a "neutral" party when it imposes regulation. Both are invalid assumptions, as seen when one studies the history of government regulation and attempts to dictate price instead of relying on market forces.

    Pure twaddle. In this case net-neutrality is about protecting consumers from those that would use their position in the market place to impose undue hurdles to how consumers access content. There are documented cases where consumers were impacted because they chose to use a service that the provider of internet access had a competing interest in. Unacceptable. If internet service were readily available where I could choose any one of several service providers in my area, there might be more of a case to let the marketplace dictate what consumers are willing to tolerate. But that isn't the case, and protecting the neutrality of the net is incredibly important. Imagine a world where HTF had to pay service providers to ensure they did not get throttled when visitors tried to access and participate. While that example isn't all that likely, it becomes worrisome when the free market service providers (like VUDU, Netflix, etc.) can be throttled and negatively impacted because a Spectrum cable and internet service provider (that I use for internet) wants to drive consumers to their services. That's like bricking up the front door to a neighborhood store that sells the same thing as you so people will shop with you and not them.

    Free markets should be celebrated and protected, but there's a balance needed as an even longer history of abuse and fraud from private corporations shows.

  11. Scott Merryfield

    …and there goes this discussion down the drain. You may mean well, Jerome, but as a new member you need to read HTF's rules on political discussions.

    Just to be clear, Scott's response is to a deleted post that violated HTF policy, not Neil's reply.

    Sam Posten

    Post removed, final warning. We'll close the thread if it continues. He's not new either, he waited 8 years to post a political rant. /boggle.

  12. Josh Steinberg

    What Neil said is correct.

    HTF Owner Adam Gregorich did a thread and special home page on this topic several months ago. He made a great argument on how net neutrality isn't a political issue.

    However some people try make it so even though it's really a money/business issue.

  13. Josh Steinberg

    What Neil said is correct.

    HTF Owner Adam Gregorich did a thread and special home page on this topic several months ago. He made a great argument on how net neutrality isn't a political issue.

    However some people try make it so even though it's really a money/business issue.

  14. Josh Steinberg

    What Neil said is correct.

    HTF Owner Adam Gregorich did a thread and special home page on this topic several months ago. He made a great argument on how net neutrality isn't a political issue.

    However some people try make it so even though it's really a money/business issue.

  15. Josh Steinberg

    What Neil said is correct.

    HTF Owner Adam Gregorich did a thread and special home page on this topic several months ago. He made a great argument on how net neutrality isn't a political issue.

    However some people try make it so even though it's really a money/business issue.

  16. Josh Steinberg

    What Neil said is correct.

    HTF Owner Adam Gregorich did a thread and special home page on this topic several months ago. He made a great argument on how net neutrality isn't a political issue.

    However some people try make it so even though it's really a money/business issue.

  17. As much as I respect Adam, and he's an owner after all, this thread shows clearly that's in dispute. We're all well aware of the issue now and our quibbling on it isn't going to change anything. I think we're done here for now.

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