Ajit Pai Is Twisting the Meaning of the “Open Internet”

Ajit Pai Is Twisting the Meaning of the “Open Internet”

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To help drive his argument home, Pai notes that the new rules will help the little guys—small, local internet providers that don’t “have the means to withstand a regulatory onslaught,” bolstering the assertion by quoting a single small internet provider in Vermont, VTel, that told the chairman that regulating the internet like a phone company—that is, making sure that internet companies are treated like the necessary utility like they are—doesn’t incentive VTel to invest in its network, and that the current FCC gives VTel optimism about the future. OK, that’s one company. But last year, about 40 ISPs—not the big players like Comcast and Verizon, which are against net neutrality protections—wrote to the FCC to say that the previous open-internet rules haven’t hurt their business or discouraged them from expanding and improving their networks at all. And in April, the trade group INCOMPAS, which represents many smaller telecom companies throughout the country, filed a petition to appeal the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, arguing that the new net neutrality rules give the big internet providers the upper hand. “Net neutrality has always been critical for small businesses and start-ups to compete in the internet age,” said Dane Jasper, the CEO of Sonic, a smaller internet provider based in the Bay Area. “When the FCC eliminated those protections, it opened the door for large, incumbent ISPs to use their gatekeeper position to put a stranglehold on innovation and competition.”

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