The FCC’s abandonment of net neutrality laws, voted on last year, finally takes effect today. Nothing is likely to change overnight — if nothing else, the public attention will keep telecoms companies in line for the next few months — but FCC chairman and dubious memer Ajit Pai has taken the opportunity to publish a dubious op-ed in CNET with a bunch more claims that don’t add up.
None of the arguments Pai is making are novel (or true). “Our approach includes strong consumer protections,” Pai writes, saying that the FTC — an organization with minimal regulatory powers and no specialist knowledge of the complicated telecoms industry — is the fearless regulator we all deserve. In reality, the FTC will only be able to enforce a company’s own terms and conditions, which won’t do anything to stop the spread of paid fast lanes, zero-rating, or anti-competitive behavior across the industry.
“Following the FCC’s decision, network investment fell by billions of dollars — the first time that had happened outside of a recession in the broadband era,” Pai continues, a statistic that comes from a study using “corrupted, made-up data” and which disagrees with the evidence from public SEC filings, which show telecoms investment up 5.3% since the 2015 Open Internet Order.
“Our goal is simple: better, faster, cheaper internet access for American consumers who are in control of their own online experience,” Pai concludes, a sentence that’s wrong on several different levels. The industry is moving towards faster internet speeds like never before, while the internet remains open, without any of the kinds of paid priority, zero-rating or service bundling that plagues the cable industry. People are never going to be more “in control” of their online experience than when they’re using an unthrottled, unmetered unlimited data connection, which is a luxury that is going to go away if the telecoms companies get their way.
The entire op-ed is available here if you enjoy intellectual self-harm.