FCC boss warns against state net neutrality policy - Mobile World Live

FCC boss warns against state net neutrality policy

17 SEP 2018

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), threatened a legal challenge against a net neutrality bill proposed by the state of California, as clashes over the controversial internet policy mount.

California and a handful of other states have moved to propose their own net neutrality rules in response to the FCC’s decision to repeal rules around throttling internet traffic which were introduced under the previous administration.

Pai (pictured) led the FCC’s move to roll back the rules, which gives internet service providers the ability to slow down some internet traffic in favour of others, and to accept payments to make certain websites or apps perform faster.

The repeal has, however, been met with a backlash from some states and big internet companies, which believe the move could stifle innovation and investment. Last month, almost two dozen US states filed a court appeal arguing for the reinstatement of the rules.

California’s own bill, meanwhile, has not been signed into law, suggesting the state’s governor Jerry Brown has doubts about making the move, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

State lines
In a speech, Pai said state-by-state regulation would hurt consumers, while warning that California’s law would not be legal.

“California’s micromanagement poses a risk to the rest of the country,” he said. “After all, broadband is an interstate service; internet traffic doesn’t recognise state lines. It follows that only federal government can set regulatory policy in this area.”

Pai also said California’s bill would hurt consumers further, because it proposes a bar on free-data plans which favour certain types of content over others. WSJ noted an example of this is an AT&T plan which doesn’t count video streaming against consumer data plans, essentially meaning the operator favours certain content over others.

The FCC chief said such plans have proved popular in the US.

In response, state senator Scott Wiener hit back at Pai, stating he “can take whatever potshots at California he wants”, but the state understood “exactly what it takes to foster an open innovation economy with a level playing field.”

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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