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Pai: Court Victory Could Embolden FCC Toward 'More' Internet Regs

If a D.C. federal appeals court upholds the FCC's network
neutrality rules, Republican commissioner Ajit Pai expects the Democrat-led
commission to expand regulation of the Internet, including into the mobile
wireless space and usage-based pricing.

That came in a speech to the Phoenix Center in Washington on
Thursday, according to a copy of the text.

Pai said the biggest action on the telecom front would
likely be that court decision, rather than actions out of the commission or
Congress, though he suggested an FCC defeat was more likely.

"Should the D.C. Circuit uphold the FCC's order, I
would expect to see revitalized efforts to expand the Commission's regulation
of the Internet. In particular, I would not be surprised if the FCC looked into
whether we should stiffen our oversight of the network management practices of
wireless broadband providers and whether we should begin to regulate usage-based
pricing," he said.

While Pai said the FCC has received few network neutrality
complaints, and has "done little" with any that have been filed, that
could change with a court victory.

But he suggested an FCC defeat as more likely, when the
question would be whether to "abandon" its effort to regulate network
management practices -- a characterization the current chairman would likely
not concede -- or attempt to reclassify broadband as a Title II service, which
Pai said would "dramatically slow broadband deployment, reduce
infrastructure investment, frustrate innovation, hamper job creation, and
diminish economic growth."

Earlier this week, Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn
declined to tell a Senate confirmation panel whether or not she would vote to
impose Title II regs on Internet access.