FCC drops net neutrality investigations into AT&T, Verizon

Almost four-million public comments helped cement the open Internet rules.

"Such arrangements", the report concluded, "likely obstruct competition for video programming services delivered over mobile Internet platforms and harm consumers by inhibiting unaffiliated edge providers' ability to provide such service to AT&T's wireless subscribers".

"If Ajit Pai's past record is any indication of how he'll be as chairman, he won't be doing much policing of that industry", Joshua Stager, policy counsel for New America's Open Technology Institute told BuzzFeed News.

Before being tapped by President Trump to lead the agency, Pai discussed other efforts to increase transparency, including, he said, by "establishing an FCC Dashboard with key performance metrics, we can better enable the public to know what and how we are doing". In a statement, Pai called the initial decisions a form of "midnight regulation". Today's announcement means they don't have to worry at all about zero-rating, and possibly broader net neutrality rules that the GOP-controlled FCC, or Congress itself, could soon spike.

The FCC had challenged the practice as a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of its net neutrality protections.

So, is Pai for or against net neutrality?

May's support is no surprise, the former FCC official recommended such an approach in a blog post earlier this month. For example, you can stream all the Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora you want under certain T-Mobile programs without using any of your data. Many other conservatives also objected to the move, saying it went too far and abused the FCC's powers.


Pai said a year ago that the FCC's role in such cybersecurity policy is "relatively circumscribed".

Now that Pai has assumed the role of "Defense Commissioner" (each FCC member takes on specific category tasks), he'll be responsible for representing the Commission at interagency groups dealing with homeland security, national security, emergency preparedness and disaster management.

All of this comes as the FCC faces its own operational challenges.

Ajit Pai, the successor to Wheeler and current head of the regulatory commission in the Donald Trump administration, said the decision to give the go ahead to companies providing low-priced internet was an example of a "midnight regulation" passed in the lame duck session. Chairman Pai and fellow Republican commissioner Michael O'Rielly opposed the decision at the time, arguing it left open the possibility to fraud and abuse of the system. Yet that is exactly what multiple bureaus have done today.

In a set of letters revealed by the FCC on Friday, the agency has said there will be no more inquiries into AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Comcast over these practices.

In his press conference, Pai said this vote is just the first step toward his goal of "modernizing" regulations and "remov [ing] unnecessary or counterproductive regulations".

Pai has long maintained that the FCC under Chairman Thomas Wheeler had overstepped its bounds, suggesting that he would steer the agency in a direction more favorable to big phone and cable companies.

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