New FCC Plan Lifts Grid Neutrality and Bets on Free Market
FCC Chairman Ajit Pye today outlined his new plan to ease the FCC’s oversight of Internet service providers. As expected, his dream plan effectively kills many ideas of net neutrality .
During today’s speech, Pai laid out his plan, the full text of which we will see tomorrow. This plan conflicts with a 2015 regulation that treats Internet service providers as traditional utilities, like a telephone company, in what is known as Title II of the Communications Act. This meant that tighter regulations related to utilities were being applied to ISPs. While the Title II requirements did not affect the cost of services, they did require ISPs to comply with several rules, including: no blocking sites, no paid fast lanes, and no speed limiting. Which is beneficial for consumers in many ways.
For example, Title II meant that a company like Comcast couldn’t cap your speed just because you watched Netflix too much, or in turn gave Netflix a priority bandwidth to provide better streaming quality exclusively to users. Comcast. The rules apply to wireless and wired service providers. It also paved the way for rules designed to protect your privacy , which Congress canceled before they even went into effect. As you’d expect, ISPs weren’t fans of Title II because that meant they were subject to countless rules and controls.
Pye’s plan is still not clear in detail, but it gave us some common ground. Under the new plan, Internet service providers will again be classified as Title I information services. Much of the oversight is transferred from the FCC back to the FTC. This is not necessarily the case because while the FTC is prohibited from regulating a common carrier, removing the common carrier designation does not necessarily give FTC authority. This is likely to take a different action on the part of Congress.
Pye also argued that by removing government oversight, competition would induce ISPs to spend more on their broadband networks and increase access to high-speed Internet across the United States. This, in turn, would theoretically create jobs for workers laying these data-filled pipelines. It’s unclear what effect this will actually have here, however, as Consumerist points out that there isn’t much evidence that ISPs have slowed down funding since the rules went into effect. In truth, we just don’t know what work has been done, so it’s hard to say what will happen in the future.
In general, Pai’s point can be summarized quite simply: the government did nothing to regulate the Internet between 1995 and 2015, and everything was fine, so it would be good if the government did nothing in the future (although it is worth noting that DSL and the set fell under Title II ).
But there are many objections to this measure and widespread support for net neutrality from companies like Google, Netflix, Facebook and others. Most consumer advocacy groups support the classification of Internet service providers as regular carriers, as this allows the government to prohibit terrible practices such as blocking Internet traffic. For their part, tech companies sent Pai a letter on Wednesday claiming that the relaxation of net neutrality rules “will hamper traffic from our services in favor of their own services or established competitors.” In common human terms, they are worried that a company like Time-Warner / Spectrum will provide faster and better access to its own services and deter competition.
In addition, consumer groups such as Fight for the Future argue that Pai’s new rules could potentially allow censorship of the Internet , which is exactly the opposite of Pye’s own assertion. It is assumed that any ISP can block access to certain websites or services because they are competitors, or because the government relies on them to do so. Net neutrality ensures that all sites, services and applications are treated equally and openly.
The final plan will be approved by the FCC at a meeting on May 18. If approved, Pye will solicit public opinion on the plan, which will likely be followed by months of debate.