USTelecom Backs FCC Chair’s Plan to Gut Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

A group of small, rural broadband providers has signed a letter in support of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to reduce the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers.

Members of the trade group USTelecom sent their letter to Pai this week. Two years ago, the FCC adopted regulations that treat broadband as a telecommunications service, prohibit blocking and slowing down of Web content, and ban Internet providers from prioritizing certain traffic.

Pai’s plan seeks to eliminate Title II net neutrality rules. In their letter, USTelecom members praised his plan for ensuring “broadband companies can continue to invest vigorously in stronger, faster networks for consumers, free from the bureaucratic straightjacket of outdated regulations known as Title II.”

“Each of us believes profoundly in preserving internet freedom, and we would never consider acting contrary to the interests of our customers,” it said. “You can call anyone you want and say anything you like on the telephone. Our customers deserve – and have always enjoyed – these same freedoms online, so we take no issue with efforts to safeguard these freedoms. Rural America urgently needs a smarter and more practical approach than rules based on laws written when our grandparents were stringing the countryside with copper and even cattle wire to connect neighbors on old party-line telephones. A clean, modern framework would accomplish two things: clear, unequivocal net neutrality protections for consumers; and equally clear, unequivocal regulatory certainty for companies working to bring broadband’s benefits to everyone.”{ad}

At its May 18 meeting, the FCC will consider a notice of proposed rulemaking, and if adopted, the Commission will seek public input on Pai’s proposal.

There are plenty of critics. Last week, more than 800 startups, entrepreneurs, investors and organizations sent Pai a letter opposing his plan.

“Without net neutrality, the incumbents who provide access to the internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market,” it said. “They could impede traffic from our services in order to favor their own services or established competitors. Or they could impose new tolls on us, inhibiting consumer choice. Those actions directly impede an entrepreneur’s ability to start a business, immediately reach a worldwide customer base, and disrupt an entire industry. Our companies should be able to compete with incumbents on the quality of our products and services, not our capacity to pay tolls to Internet access providers.”

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