Former FCC Chairman Says Title II Rules Critical for Consumer Protection
A few months removed from his role as chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler is making sure that everyone understands the consequences of reversing net neutrality.
The recently appointed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai is proposing a hands-off approach with the industry with the goal of creating competition and incentives for the ISPs to increase access to broadband internet in the urban centers.
There’s “a monopoly provider for three-quarters of the homes in America, and no choice,” Wheeler said in a forum (video) in Arlington, Virginia, Monday hosted by Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., and obtained by Ars Technica. “When you’ve only got one provider, who makes the rules? The provider makes the rules.”
In the town hall forum, Wheeler references data that show most U.S. consumers live in areas with either one provider of high-speed broadband (defined as downstream speeds of at least 25 Mbps) or have no provider of high-speed service.
One point that Wheeler wanted to make clear was how the discussion is being framed. He said that by only talking about Title II authority and not the actual rules, service providers are distorting how the public can see the benefits of net neutrality. “Using that legal term [Title II] is a smokescreen for not having to discuss no blocking, no throttling, no fast lanes, protecting your privacy, and having a referee on the field,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler added that’s why “those who are trying to overturn the rules talk about it in these terms rather than about what is the effect of Title II.”
While the effort to overturn the net neutrality rules is being championed by Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Charter, over 800 entrepreneurs wrote to the FCC asking it to uphold the current rules.
Meanwhile, Ajit Pai recently gave a speech where he reiterated his plans to overturn the rules. “I opposed our decision two years ago to heavily regulate the internet. There was simply no good reason for doing so. And the evidence now suggests that the FCC made a mistake,” Pai said.