U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: How the FCC can save the open internet

“As millions flocked to the web for the first time in the 1990s, President Clinton and a Republican Congress decided “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet.” In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the government called for an internet ‘unfettered by Federal or State regulation,'” U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai writes in a commentary for The Wall Street Journal. “The result of that fateful decision was the greatest free-market success story in history.”

“But that changed in 2014. Just days after a poor midterm election result, President Obama publicly pressured the Federal Communications Commission to reject the longstanding consensus on a market-based approach to the internet. He instead urged the agency to impose upon internet service providers a creaky regulatory framework called “Title II,” which was designed in the 1930s to tame the Ma Bell telephone monopoly,” Pai writes. “A few months later, the FCC followed President Obama’s instructions on a party-line vote. I voted ‘no,’ but the agency’s majority chose micromanagement over markets.”

“This burdensome regulation has failed consumers and businesses alike. In the two years after the FCC’s decision, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6%—the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. If the current rules are left in place, millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide would have to wait years to get more broadband,” Pai writes. “The uncertainty surrounding the FCC’s onerous rules has also slowed the introduction of new services.”

“This is why I’m proposing today that my colleagues at the Federal Communications Commission repeal President Obama’s heavy-handed internet regulations,” Pai writes. “Instead the FCC simply would require internet service providers to be transparent so that consumers can buy the plan that’s best for them. And entrepreneurs and other small businesses would have the technical information they need to innovate. The Federal Trade Commission would police ISPs, protect consumers and promote competition, just as it did before 2015. Instead of being flyspecked by lawyers and bureaucrats, the internet would once again thrive under engineers and entrepreneurs.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote over a decade ago, back in August 2006:

We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so such regulation can often have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.

And as we followed up in September 2009:

That we have the same Take over three years later should be telling. Government regulations are not a panacea, neither are the lack thereof. It’s all about striking a proper balance where innovation can thrive while abuses are prevented.

Make that “the same Take over a decade later.”

U.S. FCC plans total repeal of Obama-era rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 21, 2017
U.S. FCC plans December vote to kill so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 16, 2017
Apple’s call for ‘strong’ net neutrality rules is a hint about the future of its business – September 1, 2017
Apple breaks their silence on ‘net neutrality,’ remains open to alternative sources of legal authority – August 31, 2017
Trump administration gives thumbs up to overturning FCC’s rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ – July 19, 2017
]Apple’s deafening silence on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – July 14, 2017
FCC kicks off effort to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – May 18, 2017
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explains why he wants to scrap so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – April 28, 2017
FCC Chief Ajit Pai develops plans to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – April 7, 2017
U.S. FCC chairman wields weed whacker, takes first steps against so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 3, 2017
How so-called ‘net neutrality’ will fare under President Trump – January 26, 2017
New FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to take a ‘weed whacker’ to so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 24, 2017
President Trump elevates Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman – January 23, 2017
Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler offers final defense of so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 13, 2017
Under President Trump, Obama ally Google may face policy setbacks, including roll back of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 18, 2016
Jeb Bush on FCC and so-called ‘net neutrality’ regulation: ‘One of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard’ – March 8, 2015
Who loves the FCC’s overreach on so-called ‘net neutrality?’ Telecom lawyers – March 5, 2015


    1. Somehow the internet grew and thrived for a full generation without government-controlled, so-called “neutrality”. Reversing the rule that was shoved up our butts just a year ago probably won’t cause the world to crumble. Progress will continue. I bet if you try hard you can get over it!

      1. Your comment completely ignores the reality of how broadband providers are responding to the first legitimate threat to their business in decades. Their regional monopolies allowed them to operate without competition; now, they have very real threats to their cable TV business from streaming services like Netflix.

        How are they responding? By capping consumer data plans and charging the Netflixes of the world a premium to be exempt from these data caps – a premium that the Netflixes will have to absorb or pass on to consumers. This is an attempt to make their cable TV prices competitive without actually having to, you know, COMPETE. It’s consumer-hostile and despicable.

        Broadband Internet access is simultaneously faster and cheaper all over the developed world. These companies do not deserve anyone’s support.

  1. “The result of that fateful decision was the greatest free-market success story in history.”

    Also known as Spontaneous Order. The idea of a “spontaneous order”, i.e. an order which emerges as a result of the voluntary activities of individuals and not one which is created by a government, is a key idea in the classical liberal and free market tradition.

    Unregulated, and left actually free to determine its course, the market will produce the best results.

    1. Actually, the history of this country is replete with counter-examples, the steel trust and the railroad trusts being just a couple of examples. When it is possible to have competition, then the market can be the way to do it; in a case of internet service, however, where there are a limited number of providers (usually only 1 or 2 to a given address), regulation to prevent detrimental use of monopolistic power is often necessary.

      1. Imagine that the only company that provides your address is Comcast. Without regulation, what is to keep them from expediting traffic from NBC, which they own, and choking CBS, ABC, and Fox? It isn’t the competition, because in many markets they have none.

        How about Google Fiber? What is to keep them from expediting Google Search and choking DuckDuckGo and Bing until nobody will use them because they are so slow? Again, it isn’t competition because nobody is providing service at the same speeds in most markets.

    2. If you want unregulated utilities, abolish their eminent domain powers to condemn and seize private property first, and make them operate like an ordinary business.

      The wireline utilities should be paying rent to private property owners whose land is being used to enrich the telcos and cable cos.

      1. Great idea abolishing eminent domain for utilities until you are living in a house without electricity because the guy who owns the land between you and the substation won’t sell an easement for a price that allows the utility company to make money.

        You ARE aware, aren’t you, that the Fifth Amendment specifically allows the taking of private property for a public purpose (like making sure that everybody in the community has roads electricity, water, and telecommunications) so long as due process is followed and just compensation is paid.

        Wireline utilities DO, in effect, pay rent to private property owners. If the easement was acquired by eminent domain, the owner is paid the fair market value as determined by a jury of his peers. Other easements are acquired from the original developer as part of the subdivision process. If he wants to sell lots, he has to arrange for them to have utilities. That is carried through as part of the price of the lots when they are sold, and is collected as an element of rent if the lots are leased.

    3. Best results for whom?

      Why do other regulated nations offer consumers much better internet for much lower prices?

      What one of these huge corporations is suffering with inadequate capital to innovate?

      Asshat “corporate butt boy” Pai is just ramming through more crony capitalism down your throat. The unregulated Wild West was not a more innovative time.

    4. @t-mac
      “Unregulated, and left actually free to determine its course, the market will produce the best results”

      Unfortunately that is not true. It MAY be true in a pre-industrial society, but not now.

      The problem is that in the current society it has its own forces that LIMIT FREEDOM of the marketplace – the tendency to monopolies.

      Let’s face it – the ONLY reason that the iPhone exists today is do to antimonopoly pressure from the government.

      Microsoft with its virtual monopoly on PCs was squeezing Apple out of existence. Yet they made the historic agreement with Apple to provide Office in 1997. Was this out of generosity? NO – it was without Apple MS would have gone from a virtual monopoly to a clear and distinct monopoly.

      So this is the problem with a totally free system – It is likely to lead to consolidation that limits the very completion that it is supposed to foster.

      This is what open internet is supposed to foster – free competition. Without it the service providers become the “governments” that restrict free competition .

  2. “If the current rules are left in place, millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide would have to wait years to get more broadband”

    This asshole is still spouting this BS of a lie?

    The current regs came into place in late 2014. The telcos had over a decade to build out to low-density and remote places… i.e. unprofitable places, or where an entrenched (and originally state-sanctioned) monopoly meant a true free market competitor couldn’t break into the market and break even, never mind profit, for decades. They instead wasted customer dollars fighting municipal broadband initiatives and buying/writing state laws to prevent such initiatives from improving a situation caused by their inaction.

    Eat shit Pai.

  3. It’s fascinating how MDN hints at tepidly supporting Ajit Pai, but based on the comments (and ratings of those comments), MDN readers don’t seem to have the same bias.

    The readers see through Pai’s empty rhetoric to what he’s really about: handing over Internet users’ money to the monopoly plutocrats he’s working for.

  4. Oh Look! Ajit Pai is a LIAR:

    “This burdensome regulation has failed consumers and businesses alike. In the two years after the FCC’s decision, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6%—the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession.

    NOPE! Liar, liar…. And that’s not just my opinion. I did your homework.

    Here’s a lovely long article with the gory, factual details as of 2016 that prove Ajit Pai to be a LIAR:

    Did Net Neutrality Kill Broadband Investment Like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon Said It Would?

    No. Check this out.

    “We’re investing aggressively in the network architecture that is going to give us a competitive advantage in cost …. We’re going to continue to invest in networks as we’ve said, keep this quality up and keep these product offerings moving out and we feel comfortable about doing that within that $22 billion range.

    This [capital expenditure] growth reflects higher spending on our customer premises equipment, including X1 and wireless gateways, increased investment in network infrastructure to increase network capacity…

    Full year capital spending … was up 8.5% from 2014 due to customer relationship growth as well as investments to improve network reliability, upgrade older customer premise equipment, and expand our network to additional residences, commercial buildings, and cell towers.

    Look, 2015 was a year of significant change at Verizon. And even with all that change we delivered a strong financial year, continued to invest in growing our customer base, invested in our networks, developed and expanded new businesses, and returned value to our shareholders. … in 2016, we will continue what we started in 2015.

    . . . .

    In a recent blog post, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association once again sang the praises of its members for keeping the U.S. economy afloat with 20 years of investments in networks….

    IOW: If you believe Ajit Pai, you’re a sucker. All this corporatocracy puppet wants to do is Feed The Rich and screw We The People. √ – – So much for democracy in the current era. 😛

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