FCC chairman signals roll back of net neutrality

Ajit Pai vows to repeal regulations, and ends zero-ratings investigation

Net neutrality campaigners have been dealt another blow, as FCC chairman Ajit Pai confirmed his commitment to reversing the agency's stance on the issue.

Speaking at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress (MWC), the newly-appointed chief of the US telecoms watchdog doubled down on his previous pledges to loosen industry regulations, The Verge reports, claiming they stifle innovation and competition.

"Our new approach injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market," Pai said during his MWC speech yesterday. 

"Today, the torch at the FCC has been passed to a new generation, dedicated to renewal as well as change," Pai said. "We are confident in the decades-long, cross-party consensus on light-touch internet regulation ... and we are on track to returning to that successful approach."

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Campaigners argue that net neutrality - the principle by which internet operators are not allowed to give preferential treatment to traffic from certain sources - is essential for maintaining a free and open internet.

Pai, however, is an outspoken advocate of a 'hands-off' approach to industry governance, and prefers giving telcos as much freedom as possible to pursue decisions based on business interests.

"We know from two decades of experience that utility-style regulation is not necessary to achieving that goal," he added, according to The Verge.

He also used his speech to confirm the FCC has dropped its investigation into free data offerings, known as zero-ratings, according to Ars Technica

"Free data plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly those with low incomes, because they allow consumers to enjoy content without data limits or charges. They have also enhanced competition," he said.

Picture: Bigstock

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