Internet firms winding up for a fight on 'net neutrality'

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai   Getty  Chip Somodevilla

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Getty Chip Somodevilla

The battle over net neutrality is heating up. The Internet Association, which speaks for Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and Uber, did call on Pai to support net neutrality earlier this month.

The rules approved by the FCC in 2015 prohibit broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a "fast lane", to certain internet services over others. The FCC could hold an initial vote on his proposal at the FCC's May 18 meeting, the sources said. Democrats and privacy advocates have said net neutrality is crucial to keeping the internet open. The 2015 FCC rules reclassified internet service providers much like utilities.

"There's common ground here and there's room for an agreement here", Pai said.

They are preaching to the choir given that Pai has also been highly critical of the general conduct standard, but they are concerned about getting it off the books so it is not a tool for a different administration that might view it differently, like the Democratic Wheeler FCC that voted to impose it-Pai and his Republican colleague, Michael O'Rielly, voted against it. The FCC head is not expected to offer a new set of regulations to replace the existing yet doomed net neutrality rules.


"The rigid rules that now govern Internet providers forbid an array of business models that could benefit consumers", Ryan Radia, a research fellow at the pro-business Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in a statement.

Pai's spokeman would not provide a comment to Recode.

Internet companies are readying for a showdown with a Republican-controlled government over a policy near and dear to their hearts: net neutrality.

Some four million comments poured into the FCC in favor of the net neutrality rules in 2015, partly driven by comedian John Oliver, who explained the issue on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. During the event, he is expected to tell the telecom industry and other interested parties why he opposing applying Title II regulations to ensure large ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon won't block or throttle web traffic that travels over their last mile networks. Even before he was appointed by Trump, Pai was seen as a crusader against the net neutrality rules.

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