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FCC's Pai Likens Title II to James Harden Trade

FCC chairman Ajit Pai took to the op ed pages of the Los Angeles Times to explain his plans to roll back Title II classification of ISPs, likening the former FCC's decision to impose those rules to the Oklahoma City Thunder trading James Harden for fear of running up against the salary cap.

Pai is noted for his love of analogies (and song references).

Pai said that reclassifying ISPs for fear of prospective harms to internet openness was speculative, like that trade, which he and others argue broke up a winning combination for fear of prospective problems with the NBA salary cap.

He said that Thunder fans "would give anything to undo a trade motivated by speculative fears," suggesting he was trying to undo the Title II-related effects of that unwise moves, which he says includes that "fewer Americans have high-speed broadband access, fewer Americans are working to build next-generation networks, and fewer Americans have competitive choice than would have been the case had the FCC not gone down the Title II path."

And while the Thunder team is unlikely to be reconstituted, "we can correct a past mistake by moving away from government control of the Internet," he said. "And that’s exactly what we intend to do."

A vote is scheduled May 18 on Pai's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which proposes to reclassify ISPs, wired and mobile wireless, as information services; roll back FCC authority to regulate interconnections under the Open Internet order, and ask whether the prohibitions against blocking, throttling or paid prioritization—and requirements of enhanced transparency about network management—are in the public interest.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.