The FCC is about to unveil its net neutrality rollback plan

Posted April 26, 2017

Ajit Pai, the Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is set to release a plan Wednesday to roll back the government's net neutrality rules, setting the stage for another major showdown between tech companies and Internet service providers over the future of the Web.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will kick off the process to scrap the Obama administration's net neutrality rules on Wednesday, according to four sources familiar with the matter. Many Internet companies and online rights groups say the rules are critical for protecting innovation and free expression.

A spokesman for Pai declined to comment.

Pai is expected to outline his proposal in an afternoon speech at the Newseum in Washington, and could formally deliver the plan to his fellow commissioners later this week.

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.

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Pai has said in the past that he is not opposed to some form of net neutrality protection, but it must be without the common carrier designation.

AT&T Inc, Verizon and Comcast, three of the biggest ISPs in the U.S. argue that such regulations frustrate internet traffic management while also impeding any potential investment in infrastructure to provide additional capacity. Public Knowledge urges President Trump to honor his campaign promises to put Americans before monopolies by preserving net neutrality rules as he nears the end of his first 100 days. The Internet Association, which speaks for Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and Uber, did call on Pai to support net neutrality earlier this month. Pai said the ownership review would be a "much more fact-based discussion" than prior reviews, adding it was "critical" for media ownership rules "to match the modern marketplace". John Oliver also dedicated a show segment to the topic, which raised awareness of an otherwise jargon-y, abstract issue.

"The rigid rules that now govern Internet providers forbid an array of business models that could benefit consumers", Ryan Radia, a research fellow at the pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in a statement.

An FCC spokesman confirmed Pai's speech, but did not provide other details.