U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: Killing Obama-era rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ will set the internet free

“In an exclusive interview today just hours after announcing his plan to repeal ‘Net Neutrality’ rules governing the actions of Internet-service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has an in-your-face prediction for his critics,” Nick Gillespie, Ian Keyser and Jim Epstein report for Reason.com. “‘Over the coming years, we’re going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity,’ he said this afternoon. ‘Ultimately that means that the human capital in the United States that’s currently on the shelf — the people who don’t have digital opportunity — will become participants in the digital economy.'”

“Pai stressed that regulating the Internet under a Title II framework originally created in the 1930s had led to less investment in infrastructure and a slower rate of innovation,” Gillespie, Keyser and Epstein report. “‘Since the dawn of the commercial internet, ISPs have been investing as much as they can in networks in order to upgrade their facilities and to compete with each other,’ he says. ‘Outside of a recession we’ve never seen that sort of investment go down year over year. But we did in 2015, after these regulations were adopted.’ In a Wall Street Journal column published [on Tuesday], Pai says Title II was responsible for a nearly 6 percent decline in broadband network investment as ISPs saw compliance costs rise and the regulatory atmosphere become uncertain. In his interview with Reason, Pai stressed that the real losers under Net Neutrality were people living in rural areas and low-income Americans who were stuck on the bad end of ‘the digital divide.'”

Pai “noted that today’s proposed changes, which are expected to pass full FCC review in mid-December, return the Internet to the light-touch regulatory regime that governed it from the mid-1990s until 2015,” Gillespie, Keyser and Epstein report. “In a wide-ranging conversation (listen below as a Reason Podcast), I asked Pai to lay down specific benchmarks by which consumers might judge whether repealing Net Neutrality rules isn’t a mistake. He pointed to factors such as the number of fixed and mobile connections, the average costs and speeds of internet plans, and the volume of capital investment as indicators by which his policy could be held accountable.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once again, 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 Chairman Ajit Pai: How the FCC can save the open internet – November 21, 2017
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. “U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: Killing Obama-era rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ will set the internet free”

    Free of pesky rights and affordability for consumers and other providers such as NetFlix.

    1. Oooh. Good quip.

      While you are demonstrating your genius with words, please explain how the internet survived (it even grew!) for its first 20 years without gov’t-imposed “net neutrality”? And what was suddenly different when the genius Obama was elected? (Other than his penchant for concentrating power in his own hands)

      With gov’t control, the Internet can be more like the Space Shuttle: it inspired our imaginations, it burned lots of money, it did not fly much. It exploded. Twice. And now it is shut down.

      1. First Government created the internet, including the concept of Net Neutrality. Then free markets created America Online and Compuserve. Everyone found the older government model superior, because there was little incentive to create content under the AOL model. So the closed corporate model failed.

        Killing net neutrality means letting the ISPs chop up the internet and turning every ISP into AOL. Corporations did not invent the internet and do not own it. Their product is worthless without the input of the content providers that they want money from. Net Neutrality is NOT something Obama invented. It is what made the internet great.

      2. You clearly didn’t read my reply from yesterday where I explained what has changed in the last 5 years. Your willful ignorance is disappointing. From yesterday:

        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. What Jeff ^^ said. We need more competition in the space. The current crop of ISP’s need to go the way of Ma Bell and (to some extent) Microsoft. That’s where gov’t needs to focus it’s efforts. Consumer choice is the cornerstone of a healthy free market.

          1. So you want government to create competition? Because without any government incentives, most rural citizens would have not one provider of electricity or internet, but zero.

            Left to complete freedoms, corporations don’t erect duplicate infrastructure everywhere. corporations already have demonstrated their dedication to competition: the end consumer pays whatever they demand because they have few choices if any.

            1. We all agree that the government should step in when a corporation ABUSES a monopoly. It’s perfectly legal to HAVE a monopoly, but when a corporation uses that monopoly to stifle competition – as is happening here – it’s illegal. It’s astonishing that AT&T was allowed to grow to its current size after being broken up the first time, but here we are.

              I should also point out that these regional monopolies are not limited to rural areas; they exist everywhere. I live in New York City and have only one option for broadband. We had only one provider growing up in suburban Pennsylvania. It’s something that affects most Americans.

              You also need to consider the rest of the developed world, where they pay a fraction of what we do for speedier Internet access. From what I’ve read, it sounds like regulation has helped them avoid the mess we’re in.

      3. ReJus’ Sayin’:
        The Space Shuttle was the most complex device ever built by humans and the stats for failure were actually lower than statistically predicted.
        Space is hard- very hard

        Get your facts straight.

    2. If Ajit Pai was with the department of transportation, he would be telling you regional monopoly ownership of roads is good for the consumer so that these road owners can create toll lanes for your benefit.

      Would you believe that lie?

      1. Just because you do not support the policies of the current administration does not mean you were an enthusiastic supporter of his opponent. Turning everything into a binary choice is part of what is destroying political discourse in this country.

    1. This is one step on the path towards getting what we all want: Real competition that drives down prices.

      Republican leaders of the Senate Commerce and House Energy & Commerce committees called again Wednesday for Democrats to come to the negotiating table.

      “It’s now time for Republicans and Democrats, internet service providers, edge providers, and the internet community as a whole to come together and work toward a legislative solution that benefits consumers and the future of the internet,” Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

      The FCC overstepped and is the wrong policeman for the job. As usual, the Obama administration made the wrong choice: heavy-handed forced regulation that stifles innovation and retards the system from achieving the necessary balance.

      As usual, the knee-jerkers (see many of the idiotic commenters here) can’t see past the tip of their noses and can’t see even one move ahead, much less the multiple moves this is going to take to get to where it needs to be.

      The Internet is relatively new, especially to the glacially slow pace of government. Pai is trying to set up a situation where legislative solutions can be crafted, i.e. LAW, not a president’s whim that can be overturned with the next president’s stroke of a pen.

      Getting the policing of “net neutrality” out of the FCC is merely the first step.

          1. The new regulations are clear – ISP can block any websites they want and charge whatever they want for any combination of connectivity.

            Explain how that benefits consumers. I can easily explain how it benefits corporations and the Republican Party.

      1. Funny because an FTC Commissioner says they have no ability to regulate the internet, and that is who Republicans say should regulate it.

        “FTC commissioner Terrell McSweeny tells WIRED that the FTC is only an enforcement agency. It doesn’t have the authority to issue industry-wide rules, such as a ban on blocking lawful content. In many cases, she says, the agency might not be able to use antitrust law against broadband providers that give preferential treatment to their own content or to that of partners.”


        The agency your people say should regulate the internet say they do not have the ability to do so. Hmmm…

      2. Wow…is it possible to be more in thrall to ironic stupidity and jingoism given Trumps lies about draining the swamp. There is no hope for you, you will never develop sufficient critical thinking with your blind idolatry of the politics of division.
        Of course when you are proved wrong, you’ll invent a shibboleth, complete with divisive and ignorant blame-game delusion. Whatever happens, it will always be the opposition that did it. Like your president, you will never claim your failures, you’ll just blame liberals, Hillary, Obama, democrats, snowflakes…whatever it takes so long as you can permanently claim desert_of_denial™ excuses. Totally corrupt, devoid of real world facts, and…armed with a triumphalist’s coat of total disdain others, are seemingly pleased to see anyone who doesn’t agree with your kack, suffer the consequences wrought by a narcissist sociopath holding the biggest gun that targets the humanity, tolerance, bridge building, healing, consensus, democratic principles and basic decency of the majority of the world’s population. Like the deplorable you are.

  2. The primary ingredient in a free market is competition. One item missing from the Obama mess was any way of creating competition amongst providers. There is no method of creating competition with the completely “open” Internet either. Often we see local governments essentially colluding with large providers to stifle completion from smaller rivals.

    In all this time, The FTC has never seen fit to do anything about the near monopolies the large providers have over entire cites and communities.

    I fail to see how this significant factor will change.

    I believe in the free market and spontaneous order, but it won’t work unless the market is truly free. There has to be competition. If I am I satisfied with my provider, but cannot go to another or can only go to one even less desirable, that is not competition.

    1. Infrastructure is the domain of the State, not of the Enterprise. If you have “free market” for infrastructure then you “might” have fast internet, good roads, cheap water and electricity in towns and cities, but the rest would not see any investment because “it’s not worth it”. Infrastructure would follow the money, not the need.

      As for the internet, “free internet” is anything but. It is the freedom to charge for express lanes, while those in the lower income bracket have to do with what is left. Rich people will pay for faster access to stock quotes, markets, derivatives, etc thus ensuring they get even richer. Who cares about the rest?!

      If you think it will help the average Joe, then ask the Joe’s in California how they feel about the energy and water prices after they were privatized to benefit from “competition” …

    2. Wrong. Free competition is not some magical elixir that solves all problems. The government has an essential role to play in providing for the basic needs of its citizens (such as roads and airports), or heavily regulate essential services (such as electricity and water).

      In the Information Age, the means of communications, and access to knowledge, information, education, entertainment (the list goes on), requires access to the internet, and the government should heavily regulate it (as it does for utilities) to make sure ALL of its citizens have EQUAL access to the internet, and ALL content providers have EQUAL access to disseminate their content for the benefit of citizens.

      The argument that eliminating net neutrality will allow the telecoms to provide more affordable internet services to the poor is BS, and anyone who believes that it either naive or dishonest.

    3. One entity left out of this “collusion” idea is the power companies that are increasing pole fees drastically while at the same time rolling out their own fiber networks without the pesky need to follow NESC pole guidelines, since they are the local enforcers of safety rules.

    4. The free market does have failures, and one common case is with utilities that require massive capital investment in fixed infrastructure. It pretty much always boils itself down to a monopoly in the end, which is why utility regulation has been necessary historically and is done everywhere around the world. I really think that the part that is dangerously broken in the US market is the ISPs being able to also own content providers. In any case, removing net neutrality will inevitably result in that tech giants paying off the ISPs to give them preferential treatment and create a barrier to startup competition, resulting in less innovation and company formation in the internet space.

  3. Who’s going to be the first ISP to try to kill hosting companies? Sure you COULD use Squarespace, but if you use Xcrappity hosting, your site will load faster AND your ads won’t count against your data usage. Sure, your monthly fee will go up every year, but isn’t that WORTH being able to make Comcast more money?

    If Comcast likes it, that’s reason enough to be against it. 😉

  4. “I believe in the free market and spontaneous order”

    Why do you believe this?
    Where have you ever seen such a system which then benefits everyone?

    I think the reality is that those with a lot of power will collude and concentrate it more and more to their advantage — as shown in the previous system of supposed competion which gave the US some of the highest prices for the poorest service on the planet.

  5. The actual headline on the original post on reason.com reads “FCC Head Ajit Pai: Killing Net Neutrality Will Set the Internet Free,” so you can see where MDN’s sympathies lie by their adding unattributed comments through altering headlines. But I guess they never claimed to journalists, although they do criticize headline writers from time to time. I know what Chairman Pai thinkgs, but I think a more honest headline would be “FCC Head Ajit Pai: Killing Net Neutrality Will Set the Big ISP’s Free to Gouge You Even More.” As thetheloniusmac noted, this market is not free and what Pai has done is to change the playing field in a manner which will allow increased profits for AT&T, Comcast, and all the rest. I expect you will see most of those profits go to executive bonuses, stock buybacks, and acquisitions, with very little going to intrastructure improvement.

    Time will tell which set of predictions turns out to be right.

  6. It would be nice if Apple used its Billions to get into and improve the ISP market in a big meaningful way. I tend to trust Apple with my privacy and though it would charge a premium I bet the prices would be simple, logical, and I’d assume they would uphold neutrality for its customers…. that’s the kind of competition the rest of these companies need. Apples mere presence would keep the rest somewhat more honest.

  7. Set the internet free……free for whom?
    Free for the ISPs to do what they want. To restrict, to censor, to squeeze as they wish. Right behind them is the government telling them who to target.

    Welcome to “controlled” Internet. Not “free for the consumer” internet.

  8. I think this is great.

    I also think that eight-lane highways should all be toll roads, with one lane each way reserved for peons (most of us) who can only afford lower rates, while rich people and corporations get to pay more for the use of the sparsely populated and much faster other three lanes.

  9. Cellular is using the airwaves, wired is using public right-of-way, the internet is essential to communication and business…sounds like the very definition of a utility to me. As utilitarian as the post office in 1789.

    The greatest danger is control of what is allowed to be expressed by jerks like Pipeline Timmy, Eric The Mole and the usual array of libtard fascists who would use their definition of “news” to stifle the First Amendment.

  10. Funny how this website is about the only technical media site that is the slightest bit in support of the FCC destruction of the open web.

    Lets see if we can figure out why. Could it be the result of the critical failure of the right wing blowhards to examine exactly what the Republicans and Trump wish to accomplish. You’d support them regardless of obvious harm to your own interests just to make sure people you don’t like get hurt as well.

    Well we’re both going down the toilet – at least Liberals are still trying to keep their heads out of the toilet – you morons are drinking deeply of the toilet water.

  11. Ajit Pai is a blatant, unrepentant LIAR. I provided detailed proof in comments about the previous Ajit Pai article here at MDN.

    If you believe Pai, you are a SUCKER to the corporatocracy that pays Pai to LIE. No citizens, other than those who seek to run the Internet according to their whim, will benefit from the demolition of REAL Net-Neutrality.

    What’s ‘so-called’ is any ‘freeing’ of the Internet without enforcement of REAL Net-Neutrality.

    IOW: FREEDOM HAS A COST. Give up that freedom and you’re letting OTHERS run your life. And these corporatocracy SCUM only want your $MONEY$. They’ll scour it out of you by any means available.


    Pie Pai, liar.

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