FCC Discusses Planned Net Neutrality Repeal With Telecoms

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), met with major telecom giants on Tuesday and discussed his initial plan for repealing net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC under the former Obama administration in 2015. Several sources with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters that Pai is looking to replace net neutrality rules as quickly as possible, but is also insisting on cooperation from the telecommunications industry and has asked major carriers to willingly agree to follow certain principles aimed at preserving the Internet as an open ecosystem in which all data is treated equally and consumers aren't actively discouraged from using specific services. The FCC has yet to officially confirm Pai's Tuesday meeting took place, though the federal agency previously signaled it will be repealing existing net neutrality rules as soon as it can.

Previous reports indicated Pai is primarily looking to overturn the part of the FCC's net neutrality rules that classifies Internet service providers as utilities and thus prevents them from selling packages which would allow customers to access certain websites more quickly. While the FCC Chairman is reportedly seeking to repeal that provision, Pai also wants wireless carriers and broadband service providers to agree to not slow down access to certain websites on purpose with the goal of selling more expensive packages to consumers, industry sources claim. Those open Internet principles would even be adopted in terms of services of each individual telecom, though it's currently unclear whether that would be enough for the FCC to maintain an open Internet while simultaneously eliminating what it deems are excess regulations.

According to recent reports, the FCC Chairman may introduce his proposal for the repeal of net neutrality rules by the end of April, while initial voting on the matter is then expected to take place in either May or June. Pai previously labeled net neutrality rules as "a mistake," implying there are simpler ways of maintaining an open Internet. The opponents of his policy idea claim the repeal of the existing rules will allow Internet providers to promote their own media services at the expense of others, ultimately hurting consumers who will either be forced to access only certain content or pay more for the privilege to access everything.

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