WASHINGTON, MARCH 31, 2017 -- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai intends to pursue two core values during his tenure at the FCC - superior Internet access and continued infrastructure investment. Key to accomplishing those goals is a review of the Commission's 2015 decision to reclassify broadband Internet access as a telecom service and subject to Title II regulation.
Pai made his comments yesterday during a special session at the American Cable Association's Summit 24 in Washington, D.C.
"I think you know, given what I've said over the past several years, including 67 pages of it two years ago, what I think of Title II. I favor free and open Internet. I oppose the imposition of heavy-handed economic regulations," Pai said in a Q&A with ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka.
Pai added, "To me it's the basic question of exploring two core values. On the one hand, we want every consumer to have access to content and the open Internet experience. On the other hand, we recognize that the networks of the future will require massive capital expenditures."
Pai, who became Chairman in January, indicted his approach had bipartisan roots.
"We want to make sure there is an incentive to invest and innovate within those networks. There is a way to achieve both of those goals, which is the Clinton Administration framework of light-touch regulation," he said.
Pai added that if an actor in the marketplace were to behave in an uncompetitive fashion, "the government can always take targeted action to address that issue. But to pre-emptively declare every company - from the big cable companies all the way down to Main Street Broadband, which is an ISP ... with four customers, and declare them anticompetitive monopolists from the get-go seems to me an overreach," he said. "We will try to figure out the way forward, in consultation with others."
He continued, "We want the Internet in United States to be the envy of the world. We want our digital economy to continue to thrive, and we want to preserve those two core values of free Internet and infrastructure investment."
The FCC Chairman also discussed other potential regulatory changes. He has circulated an order that would revise the condition on the Charter merger, requiring it to overbuild approximately one million locations, where ACA members are already built.
"To me, it's pretty simple. It's as if the FCC took two people to a restaurant. To one they said ‘You will get two entrees, and the other will do without.' ... That's what the overbuilding condition does," Pai explained.
"To those that already have digital connections, you will have another option -- overbuilding. Everyone else is left on wrong side of the digital divide. It actually accentuates the digital divide," he added. "We want to take another look at that. Hopefully my colleagues feel the same way, and we'll revise that condition. The last thing we want to do is penalize you for the investments you've already made and dis-incentivize you from doing it in the future. We would rather get everyone online as opposed to a small field."
On Wednesday, FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly called the Charter overbuild condition "completely problematic from my viewpoint."
The ACA Summit is a special event where small and mid-sized cable operators serving hometown America connect with the leading lawmakers and regulators as well as media representatives on the communications policy beat in Washington, D.C. This year's summit coincides with the start of a new Congress and a new President in the White House focused on passing legislation designed to reduce regulatory burdens on communications providers and other businesses.
Please visit the ACA Summit 2017 website by clicking here: ACA Summit. The event took place at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. This year's Summit is ACA's 24th annual "fly-in" to Washington with its members and, as such, will use the hashtag #Summit24 for all social media about the event.
ACA's more than 750 independent cable operators play a unique role in providing best-in-class communications services to millions of consumers, many living and working in rural areas of the country. Created in the early 1990s, the ACA Summit gives independent cable operators a vehicle for framing the diverse and complex issues in their own words during dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill and with regulators at the FCC.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing nearly 750 smaller and medium-sized, independent cable companies who provide broadband services for nearly 7 million cable subscribers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA's members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit http://www.americancable.org/
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