FCC to launch 'comprehensive review' of media regs

Recommended Reading: April 27, 2017

Nearly two dozen smaller ISPs have told FCC chairman Ajit Pai that the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order reclassifying ISPs as Title II common carrier telecom services "hangs like a black cloud", a cloud they are urging him to dispel ASAP.

Citing four sources close to Pai, Recode reported that the process to overturn the rules will start tomorrow.

Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, will likely announce a plan to reverse course on the 2-year-old regulations and end the agency's classification of broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service. Consumer groups have argued that Internet providers have a strong incentive to force websites such as Netflix or Google to pay a fee to be displayed on consumers' screens, which could affect what services consumers can see and access online. He is expected to offer an outline of his approach in Wednesday's speech followed by proposed rules to be issued for public comment at an upcoming FCC meeting, perhaps as soon as next month.

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Broadband providers and Republican lawmakers have opposed the rules, saying the reclassification adds unnecessary regulation that deters deployment and other investment in their networks.

Before adopting the current rules, the FCC twice tried to impose net neutrality rules that were struck down by courts as going beyond the agency's authority.

Pai told reporters Thursday he has been meeting with major internet companies and trade groups to discuss ways of protecting an open internet.

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The industry's giants, however, have mostly stayed silent beyond offering blanket statements of support for net neutrality. The FCC's job, he said, "is to make sure our rules change to keep up with the times".

The ISPs pledged to continue to protect an open internet because it was not in their interests to block, throttle or degrade traffic, and that rather than being the gatekeepers (which they were branded by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in justifying Title II), it is the "Frightful Five" edge providers-Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google-that have the scale and ability to dominate other sectors.

Fortunately, in 2015 the Federal Communications Commission put in place light touch net neutrality rules that not only prohibit certain harmful practices, but also allow the Commission to develop and enforce rules to address new forms of discrimination.

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