Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

Getty Images              Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai during an internet regulation event at the Newseum in Washington DC

Getty Images Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai during an internet regulation event at the Newseum in Washington DC

Pai has been a critic of the FCC's approach to net neutrality, in which internet providers were classified as common carriers.

In his much-awaited speech, Pai is expected to discuss his vision of net neutrality. Instead, Internet service providers would take a voluntary pledge not to discriminate online and the Federal Trade Commission would investigate any alleged violations of the pledges. During the event, he is expected to tell the telecom industry and other interested parties why he opposing applying Title II regulations to ensure large ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon won't block or throttle web traffic that travels over their last mile networks.

Sources close to Pai said that he intends to keep the internet principles, but wants to get rid of the utility-style regulatory framework. Every indication is that Chairman Pai is on the verge of announcing the details of his plan to gut net neutrality, an assault which would be the capstone of an agenda riddled with industry giveaways at the expense of consumers, competition, and small business. And he has floated the idea privately to various companies and groups that could be affected by that change in policy.

AT&T Inc, Verizon and Comcast, three of the biggest ISPs in the USA argue that such regulations frustrate internet traffic management while also impeding any potential investment in infrastructure to provide additional capacity.

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At least one big supporter of net neutrality - Netflix - has tempered its rhetoric recently.

Recode reported on Monday that Pai will reveal his plans for how to move forward on net neutrality, the set of rules of the road for broadband service that prohibit them from blocking or slowing content, or from creating "fast lanes" for companies that pay for speedier access to consumers. "Previous year the United States experienced the first decline in broadband investment outside of a recession", Pai said in a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, as cited by Tech Crunch. President Donald Trump, who appointed Pai as the FCC's chairman, has also criticized the regulations.

For the moment, though, there's no net-neutrality development to rally around, and won't be until there's an actual FCC proposal up for debate.

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