FCC chairman confirms net neutrality vote planned for December

Wyden Merkley blast FCC chairman's net neutrality move

FCC chairman Ajit Pai put forward the proposal, which will be taken up in December 14 vote, as a signature piece of his deregulation agenda.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), pauses while speaking during an open meeting in Washington on November 16.

The proposal puts Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, into position to kill a rule that survived a court challenge from broadband providers previous year.

"The job of the FCC is to represent the consumer", he said.

The proposal would allow internet providers to block or slow down certain websites or charge variable rates for different streaming quality or other internet services. Broadband providers have argued that competition will ensure they don't unfairly squelch traffic.

During President Barack Obama's tenure, the then head of F.C.C Tom Wheeler said that the rules were vital as they prevented companies such as Verizon to low down the operations of services like Netflix.

- FCC is expected to share the full text of its plans tomorrow, just a day before Thanksgiving, hoping that not many eyes will catch the bad news.

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Pai, who has repeatedly rejected claims that the FCC is making rules changes with Sinclair in mind, said the review will include public input.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, called Pai's move "an all-out assault on the entrepreneurship, innovation and competition at the heart of the internet". He said earlier this year "people tell me that they want fast, affordable and reliable internet access".

Pai is taking aim at regulations that were approved two years ago under a Democratic presidency and that sought to make sure all Internet content, whether from big or small companies, would be treated equally by Internet providers. On Tuesday, the company issued a statement saying it opposes Pai's plan.

The Internet Association had also said that the repeal will actually harm investment in the tech industry as "in a world without net neutrality protections, startups would face discrimination from ISP owned or preferred content that's granted a speed advantage through paid prioritization".

The repeal would be welcome news for major telecoms, who have lobbied extensively to gut regulations that restrict their control over internet traffic. Since President Trump appointed him as FCC chairman in January, Pai has made reversing the rules a key part of his deregulatory agenda.

In May, the FCC approved Pai's proposal to review the Open Internet order passed under the previous USA government in 2015, which laid down a number of rules for ISPs aimed at ensuring net neutrality. "Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices".

The FCC's plan has also stirred up heated resistance on Reddit, where numerous users are calling for USA citizens to contact their state representatives to demand their support for net neutrality. "We believe", Verizon said in a statement to ABC, "that users should be able to access the internet when, where, and how they choose, and our customers will continue to do so".

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