Verizon announced it will zero-rate data from its Fios streaming and on-demand mobile TV service, just a day after FCC chairman Ajit Pai defended his negative stance on Obama-era net neutrality rules to the Senate.
The move to waive data charges on Fios content would appear to conflict directly with current net neutrality regulations which state all internet traffic must be treated equally.
Pai heavily criticised net neutrality since its introduction under the previous US administration. After his appointment to FCC Chair by President Trump, he told Reuters the days of the “depression-era” policy were numbered, and argued the net neutrality problem simply did not exist.
Two weeks into his new role, which Pai assumed on January 24, the FCC closed an investigation into operators’ zero-rated data offers without taking any action. At the time, Pai said: “Going forward, the Federal Communications Commission will not focus on denying Americans free data.”
The 2015 Open Internet Order, introduced by former FCC chief Tom Wheeler, prohibits ISPs from offering a better quality of service to certain online content at the expense of others.
Although the regulation is yet to be formally repealed, nor any new legislation in this area approved, Pai confirmed the framework would be reviewed and regularly reiterated his aim for a free and open internet in the US.