On April 26, Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, gave a speech at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. regarding internet regulation and advocating against policies promoting “net neutrality,” which he claimed were a political ploy.
According to Pai, Obama-era policies that would have reclassified ISPs as common carriers were only introduced after a mid-term slump in an effort to revitalize his voting base, the effort a “transparent attempt” to reduce the agency of the FCC rather than anything else. Pai added that the “dystopian” nightmare of fast and slow internet connections were not going to come true.
Many ISPs have been found to have negotiated internet connectivity speeds with major businesses such as Netflix, providing faster streaming time for that website while offering lower speeds for other businesses using a VPN service. Comcast went through with such a deal. Critics of such a business model say that these policies help entrench major corporations while killing competition for smaller businesses.
In his speech, Pai repeated his belief that a light-touch regulatory system would improve internet access for Americans, create jobs and boost competition, and announced plans to rescind the 2015 Open Internet Order in order to do so.
“Nothing about the internet was broken in 2015” before the policy was introduced, he said.
According to international surveys, the United States’ internet in 2015 – and now – is one of the slowest of all developed countries with the highest costs. This was as a result of extremely limited competition and major monopolies among ISPs. Critics have said the FCC and Congress are responsible for the lack of competition, having approved policies that limit competition as well as allowing massive mergers that led to monopolies.
Pai said he plans to introduce a Notice of Proposed Rule Making May 18 at the FCC open meeting in order to push forward a plan to seek input on and redesign policies and obligations for ISPs, including rules on blocking and prioritization.
Net neutrality advocates have blasted Pai’s speech as misrepresenting the complexities of how major ISPs throttle competition, while Pai claims net neutrality advocates are anti-free speech protesters.