Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, in a speech at FreedomWorks in Washington, DC, today announced his agency will reconsider broadband rules put in place by the Obama administration under former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. Those rules, which enabled government bureaucrats to strictly enforce the agency’s vision of “net neutrality,” classified broadband as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Pai proposes returning the classification of broadband under Title I of the law, which will treat it with a lighter regulatory touch as an “information service.”
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“Network neutrality was a regulatory overreach that guaranteed consumers nothing but higher prices and poorer service. For example, out-of-the-box, network neutrality rules threatened to halt customer-friendly pricing plans like unlimited wireless data. If left unchanged, network neutrality would force the FCC to meddle in every broadband pricing, marketing, and sales plan, making for a string of inconsistent and ad hoc rulings. It is regulation at its worst and Chairman Pai is correct to pull it back.”
“The Trump Administration is about to restore the regulatory framework that was in place for the Internet we’ve known, and which has thrived, for 99 percent of its existence. That regulatory framework allowed the private sector, in 20 short years, to transform the Internet from ‘That New Thing’ into one-sixth of America’s entire $18.3 trillion economy.
“I like that Internet – the free speech-free market Xanadu that the private sector created. I don’t like the Barack Obama/Venezuela vision of top-down, all-encompassing government regulations – where people will stand in long lines awaiting their daily government allotment of bandwidth.
“Trump was elected to undo Obama’s huge government approach. This is a fundamental component of our undoing Obama’s fundamental transformation. Please proceed apace, Trump Administration, in good health and with all blessings.”
“Finally, common sense returns to the Federal Communications Commission. Let’s face it: Applying 1934 Title II common-carrier rules to the Internet was foolish from the beginning. It was akin to applying one of King Hammurabi’s laws to contemporary driverless automobiles. Yet, three members of the FCC appointed by the last administration persisted, and the newly packed U.S. Court of Appeals rubber-stamped network neutrality as the law of the land.
“The real-world cost of this folly was estimated by Phoenix Center Chief Economist George S. Ford as between $150 billion and $200 billion in network investment over the past five years. Fortunately, current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai understands the importance of investment when it comes to customer service and satisfaction, technological advancements, and shareholder value. Once again, at least in this instance, the information-technology industry will respond to what the free market requires rather than what micro-managing government bureaucrats demand.”
“The Internet was not broken when the Obama administration applied the antiquated Title II regulatory regime to it in 2015, but it has done a good job of slowing innovation and reducing private broadband investment. It’s fantastic news that Chairman Ajit Pai is leading the charge to remove the shackles of Title II – an all-too-rare example of a federal bureaucracy correcting its regulatory mistakes. This will ensure the digital economy has the flexibility to grow and provide Americans with the innovation and lower prices they have come to expect, and which the free market will provide.”
Director of Communications
The Heartland Institute
Author, “Neutralism: The Strange Philosophy Behind the Movement for Net Neutrality“