These are exciting times in the world of communications technology.
Ajit Pai, originally appointed to the Federal Communications Commission by President Obama and elevated to the chairmanship by President Trump, wants to throw out the recently-enacted regulatory structure that calls for Internet service providers to be treated like a public utility, i.e., net neutrality. He recently talked with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie about his plans for the future.
The decision to change policy is, of course, controversial and will be the subject of fierce ongoing debate. My colleague Ryan Radia, however, spoke for CEI and many in the free market movement this week in his statement on Pai’s announcement:
CEI welcomes Federal Communication Commission Chairman Pai’s plan to end harmful public utility regulation of Internet providers. Undoing the Obama-era net neutrality rules that threaten free speech online is critical to protecting a free and open Internet. The FCC’s 2015 Internet regulations must be eliminated in order to promote competition and innovation in the broadband market, which will ultimately serve American consumers with more choices and better products at lower prices.
Earlier this week, Ryan also had the following to say about the ongoing net neutrality debate:
Over the past decade, the FCC has sought to transform itself into the Internet’s regulator in spite of a clear directive to the contrary from Congress. The rigid rules that now govern Internet providers forbid an array of business models that could benefit consumers, from prioritizing time-sensitive Internet traffic to cutting deals with Web startups to exempt them from data caps.
Unfortunately, rolling back these regulations will not end the fight over net neutrality. A never-ending game of regulatory ping pong where the winner changes every four or eight years serves no one. Resolving this battle will require Congress to rewrite the nation’s telecom laws, phasing out the FCC’s many functions that can be better sorted out by markets or courts. Otherwise, broadband providers will soon look and act like the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly: stagnant, entrenched, and anything but innovative.
If you are going to be in Washington, D.C. on May 16th, please join us for a lunch-time discussion event on Capitol Hill: “Internet Freedom, Regulation, and Congress: A Discussion with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai” in the Russell Senate Office Building.
For more on net neutrality regulations see the Technology and Telecommunications chapter in CEI’s Agenda for the 115th Congress.