Skip to main content

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai weighs in on net neutrality plan: 'worse than I had imagined'

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai weighs in on net neutrality plan: 'worse than I had imagined'


Pai slams Tom Wheeler for not releasing full text

Share this story

Last week, FCC chair Tom Wheeler released a fact sheet for his new net neutrality plan, and it was a dramatic one. Wheeler intends to reclassify broadband as a more utility-like service, something that would allow him to implement net neutrality rules banning paid prioritization, or unreasonable interconnection fees on the internet backbone. Today, fellow commissioner Ajit Pai attacked that proposal in a press conference, accusing Wheeler of hiding its true effect and calling for him to release the entire proposal.

"The American people are being misled."

"The American people are being misled about President Obama's plan to regulate the Internet," he said in a statement, suggesting that Obama had pressured Wheeler into reclassification. "Last week's carefully managed rollout was designed to downplay the plans of a massive intrusion in the Internet economy." The FCC has answered questions about the plan in its own press conference, and Wheeler released a four-page document explaining its major points. But the full document is only available to the rest of the FCC, which will vote on it during a February 26th open meeting.

"I have now read the 332 page plan. It is worse than I had imagined," said Pai. In particular, he warned that reclassifying broadband would open the door to taxes and onerous regulations, and give the FCC "broad and unprecedented discretion to micro-manage the internet." He claimed that although Wheeler has repeatedly promised the plan won't include any new rates or taxes, it doesn't shut the door on implementing them in the future, creating a burden for small regional ISPs and cable providers. In a political judo move, he brought up Cedar Falls, a town that Obama has praised for developing its own municipal internet. Cedar Falls Utility "visited with my office recently," he said. "They told us they oppose Title II regulation."

He also defended plans that could be construed as "fast lanes." The ban on paid prioritization would jeopardize "innovative service plans" like T-Mobile's Music Freedom program, under which certain music services don't count towards a subscriber's data cap, he said. (Of course, not everyone sees that as a bad thing.) Pai would essentially have never supported net neutrality regulation, and he's complained before that Wheeler has failed to share rules with him and other commissioners, but the Title II plan has put him on high alert.

"The promised forbearance amounts to fauxbearance."

Like many FCC meetings, the conference was interrupted by protestors, who brought up a study that found 81 percent of Americans oppose "fast lanes." And on Twitter, FCC council Gigi Sohn contested many of Pai's points. Of the 332 pages, she said, only eight actually talked about new rules; the others laid out historical background, legal justifications, and responses to the record 3.7 million net neutrality-related comments the FCC received. She also pointed to a Washington Post analysis of whether Title II would create billions of dollars in new taxes — it concluded that the actual effects were impossible to predict, but that Republicans' dramatic numbers were probably exaggerated.

Pai is one of two conservative (and anti-net net neutrality) commissioners on the FCC, and he's likely to be overruled this month. But although his is a minority opinion in the agency, net neutrality will also have plenty of Congressional opposition in the coming months.

Update February 10th, 5:50PM ET: Michael O'Rielly, the FCC's other conservative commissioner, has published his own misgivings about the plan. "The promised forbearance amounts to fauxbearance," he wrote, echoing Pai's concern that the agency would fall down a slippery slope of regulation. "Subjecting so many practices to a case-by-case determination of 'reasonableness' raises major concerns about further delegation of Commission authority to agency staff, a phenomenon that has already gone much too far in my opinion," O'Rielly continued. "The FCC fact sheet promises the certainty of 'bright line rules,' but instead raises many more questions than answers."

Verge Video:What to know about the FCC's net-neutrality proposal

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed An hour ago Striking out

Andrew WebsterAn hour ago
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.

External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.

James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.