September 28, 2017

Your Cable Company Loves Ajit Pai

If you hate your cable company, now is a good time to let Congress know.

by Chris Thomas

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Mitch McConnell is sending the Confirmation of FCC chairman Ajit Pai to the Senate floor, likely in the very near future. Pai was nominated as chair of the FCC by President Trump just six months after his term on the Commission ended in 2016 and he has been serving as interim director of the FCC since then. As director, Pai will have the opportunity to profoundly influence how telecommunications and the internet are regulated in the United States so the Senate needs to hear from their constituents on the work he’s done so far.

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Career high-points

So far, Pai’s tenure on the FCC has been intensely pro-business and especially favorable towards the interests of the large telecom companies that enjoy regional monopolies in much of the United States.

As the good folks at Verge have pointed out, Pai has acted to reduce broadband options for the poor and to prevent the buildout of broadband networks by educational institutions like schools and libraries. He has approved massive consolidation of media, especially television media, leading to a TV monoculture in many parts of the country. He has applied similar policies in the broadband markets, deliberately reducing broadband competition and even going so far as to strike FCC requirements that demanded Charter and Time Warner cable at least pay lip service to the need for competition in the broadband markets as the price of a merger.

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Just what the internet needs: more microtransactions

Net Neutrality

What makes Pai particularly controversial, however, is his position on net neutrality. He’s against it and thinks broadband providers don’t need government regulations telling them how to charge for their services since they’ve never had to do that before.

Net Neutrality for people in a hurry

But the internet today isn’t the same place it was a decade ago. Recent innovations in networking have enabled a technology called “deep packet inspection” which allows the prioritization of data based upon where it is going and what is in it. Imagine a toll road which is suddenly able to change truckers different rates depending on the cargo they’re carrying. If the toll company has other business interests they can use the road to squeeze out competition. If Comcast or Verizon wants to run a streaming video site, Netflix is going to have a hard time competing with it if data transferred from Netflix costs five times as much.

Why this matters

Communications and data are the gold-rush of the 21st century. The explosion of internet connectivity in conjunction with new and exciting ways to use that connectivity (and the data it creates) to literally change the world will define the next century and determine the economic fortunes of the country. Innovation will drive that trend and the FCC’s regulations will create the framework in which that innovation takes place. Ajit Pai will take the FCC in a fundamentally anti-consumer, pro-business direction which risks stifling innovation and competition in favor of controlling costs and padding the bottom lines of telecommunications monopolies.

Tell Congress what you think!

The vote on Ajit Pai’s confirmation as chairman of the FCC will likely happen in the next few weeks. You can text RESIST to 50409, or just click here to tell your Representatives or Senators what you think about this or any other issue before Congress

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