Pai Signals Dec. 14 Net Neutrality Vote Is on

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has signaled he has no plans to delay the Dec. 14 vote to roll back network neutrality rules, as some Hill Dems and net neutrality groups have called for.

He is also confident he has the three Republican votes to approve reclassifying ISPs as Title I information services not subject to mandatory access requirements, as well as roll back regs preventing blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

That came in a speech Dec. 5 at the International Institute of Communications' Telecommunications and Media Forum.

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"Once the plan to restore Internet freedom is adopted on December 14," he said "we will move from heavy-handed regulation to light-touch regulation, not a completely hands-off approach." The speech was his effort to frame the order as "the FCC’s most powerful tool for expanding digital opportunity."

He said it will not be a "completely hands-off approach," adding: "We won’t be giving anybody a free pass.  We will simply shift from one-size-fits-all pre-emptive regulation to targeted enforcement based on actual market failure or anticompetitive conduct.  The Federal Trade Commission will consistently protect competition and consumers across the Internet economy—ISPs and edge providers alike."

That Pai has the votes was never really in doubt given the deregulatory, anti-Title II bent of the other two commissioners, but there has been heavy pressure as the vote approached to delay the vote, tied to what opponents said was a corrupted FCC comment docket that brought into question the process, at least in the minds of some Democratic legislators and activist groups.

An FCC spokesperson has dismissed that criticism as Title II fans trying to preserve old regs, or grandstanding by state officials and, by extension at least, a fellow Democratic commissioner.

John Eggerton

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.