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Pai, Fischer Team to Slam Net Neutrality Rules

Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai and Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer teamed up for an op ed in the Omaha World-Herald Monday to criticize the FCC majority's new network neutrality rules in particular and FCC regulatory policies in general.

That came in advance of a planned press conference in Omaha where they will talk more about their alternative to what they call the federal government's open Internet rules (ever since President Obama publicly called for Title II-based rules, Pai has called it the Administration's new rules, rather than the FCC's).

In a line that would certainly surprise FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Pai and Fischer argue that "It is time to make Internet access and broadband deployment a national priority." That is essentially the mantra of FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, as well as the goal of an Obama Administration wireless spectrum-clearing plan that includes broadcast incentive auctions.

But Pai and Fischer have a very different view of how that should be achieved, saying that the federal government's current course is bureaucratic micromanaging that will result in higher prices and delayed deployment, including hurting rural small businesses.

"As a U.S. senator and a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, respectively, we have yet to meet a consumer who thinks broadband prices are too low, speeds are too fast or options are too many. But we’re headed to higher prices, slower speeds and fewer options," they wrote.

They also put in a plug for fixing the Universal Service Fund and, more generally, regulatory policies that stimulate investment.

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.