GOP FCC Commissioners to Review Net Neutrality ASAP

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GOP Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly intend to revisit Net Neutrality regulation “as soon as possible.” The rules passed under the Tom Wheeler FCC prohibit Internet Service Providers, some of whom are wireless carriers, from “throttling” or slowing internet speeds based on payment size. The rules affect what providers like Verizon and AT&T can do concerning free data wireless plans powered by towers.

Rural ISPs especially oppose the rules while giants like Netflix and Google support them. GOP members of Congress have said they’d help the new FCC eliminate or at least relax the restrictions.

Pai, presumed to be named interim FCC Chairman, and O’Rielly, explained their plan this week in a letter to the Competitive Carriers Association, the Rural Broadband Association, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and the American Cable Association. Noting the exemption relieving small broadband internet access service providers from the enhanced transparency rules under Net Neutrality expired December 15; they urged the agency to extend the exception, “affording at least a short-term and warranted economic relief to thousands” of providers.” 

The associations told the FCC “to comply with enhanced network performance requirements, some small providers would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade their network equipment or pay a third party to take granular network measurements.” Compliance includes paying more legal fees and consultant fees, they added.

There’s support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, according to the associations, noting the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act was passed unanimously by the House, twice, and out of committee in the Senate; both versions of the Act would protect broadband providers serving 250,000 subscribers or less.

The Republican Commissioners told the associations they wouldn’t support action against small business ISPs for “supposed non-compliance” with the disclosure rules.

December 23, 2016

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