Be careful what kind of broadband regulation you wish for, because you're about to get it

8 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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“I think the devils going to be in the details”, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai told a CES audience yesterday. “Unfortunately, Title II is not going to be the panacea that some people think it will be, especially when we get to the massive discussion of forbearance, deciding which types of regulation we’re going to heed and which types we’re going to jettison”.

Short version: he’s not a fan.

Title II is the section of federal telecoms law that deals with common carrier rules, and it’s about to be applied to broadband infrastructure and services. FCC chair Tom Wheeler dropped the bomb at CES, just an hour before Pai and his colleagues on the commission – Jessica Rosenworcel, Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly – spoke at a panel session.

Naturally, they didn’t say how they planned to vote – in theory, they haven’t even seen Wheeler’s proposed new rules – but they stuck to their past positions.

“Our internet economy is the envy of the world and it’s built on a foundation of openness”, Rosenworcel said. “I support network neutrality and I look forward to [reading Wheeler’s draft when it’s released in February]”.

Rosenworcel wanted to keep Title II “on the table” from the beginning; it’s a safe bet she’s happier with Wheeler’s new approach.

Clyburn and O’Rielly stuck to their typical euphemisms: he has “concerns” and she’s worried about “the little guys”. Translation: no and yes.

That means the current count is 3 yes and 2 no, with the vote split along party lines, and that’s all that’s needed to approve common carrier rules for broadband.