FCC to repeal net neutrality rules: telecom companies to benefit

Conservatives have welcomed the decision calling it an important accomplishment.

Ajit Pai (Courtesy of twitter)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on Tuesday, said it is considering rolling back the net neutrality regulations enacted by the Obama administration by providing the right to internet companies to decide which websites their customers can see and use.

The rules enable high-speed internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to slow down or stop delivery of some websites or charge for providing high-quality streaming.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them.”

Pai, a Republican, has been expected to change the net neutrality rules ever since he took charge of the office in January this year. He had said that rolling back the rules was one of his top priorities.

According to Pai, the regulation, which was an example of government overreach, prevented innovation.

The decision of the FCC has led to a divided stand among telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon against internet giants like Google and Amazon.

While internet companies are concerned about the power of telecom companies to control information and entertainment, telecom companies argue that the new rules are necessary since the existing regulation prevents them from offering customers a wider selection of services at higher and lower price points.

“This action will return broadband in the U.S. to a regulatory regime that emphasizes private investment and innovation over lumbering government intervention,” Joan Marsh, a vice president at AT&T, was quoted as saying by New York Times.

“We are disappointed that the proposal announced today by the F.C.C. fails to maintain the strong net neutrality protections that will ensure the internet remains open for everyone,” Erin Egan, a vice president at Facebook, said in a statement. “We will work with all stakeholders committed to this principle.”

The cost of online companies will go up and finally, the customers will have to pay a higher price for watching and subscribing quality content. Small companies are facing threat as they may not be able to afford the cost to be incurred for the faster connections.

The new rule “represents the end of net neutrality as we know it and defies the will of millions of Americans,” Michael Beckerman, chief executive of the Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents Google, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies, was quoted as saying by New York Times.

At the same time, conservatives have welcomed the decision calling it an important accomplishment.

“It’s a signature accomplishment for Pai’s chairmanship,” Fred Campbell, director of the conservative think tank Tech Knowledge told The Washinton Post. “This item represents the starkest policy difference between the Obama FCC … and Chairman Pai.”

The activists have called for demonstrations and protests ahead of the FCC’s vote. The Free Press Action Fund and other net neutrality activist groups alleged that Pai is bidding for Verizon, where he had served as an associate general counsel for two years beginning in 2001.

The rules are expected to get approval during a meeting on Dec. 14. The commission has three Republican members including Pai and two Democrats.

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