FCC approves net neutrality rules, reclassifies broadband as a utility

He's not an idiot, he laid out several logical arguments that are consistent with his conservative ideology. I disagree with almost everything he said, because I'm not conservative and am not generally afraid of any expansion of government authority, but that doesn't mean he's an idiot or inconsistent.

-He argued that prices would be higher because it would cut off a potential revenue stream for cable companies - they can't charge for paid prioritization. Now, he also mentioned that this "isn't even a problem" yet because paid prioritization / throttling haven't been done, so I think he was just hedging his bets.

-He also argued that the cost of complying with regulation would increase prices. This will probably be true for small providers (whom he focused heavily on in his speech), because most of them don't have legal personnel in-house to navigate all the new conditions. Of course, these companies serve a very small percentage of the country, and mostly don't have competitors so I doubt they'll go out of business, they'll just have to raise rates a bit.

-He mentioned that the FCC will use Title II to impose USF fees on broadband internet. Right now, the Universal Service Fund is paid for entirely by fees that are tacked on to every phone bill. They're really minor so most people don't care about them, but the pot is huge. USF money subsidizes broadband deployment, but because ISPs weren't common carriage, they couldn't be charged with it. Personally, I think it makes sense to add fees to broadband as well, but he hates taxes so that's why he opposes it. On phone bills, the fees are something like $0.25 per $15 in charges, so we're not talking a whole lot of money.

-Pai's also afraid of imposing rate regulation, which Title II allows them to do. Clyburn pointed out that the FCC almost never uses its rate regulation authority, and will only use it for egregious cases, but Pai is mistrustful of the government.

Basically, the whole thing comes down to forbearance. Wheeler and the dems claim that most of the provisions of Title II, 27 of them to be exact, are under forbearance, meaning they won't apply to ISPs. Pai and the GOP say that there's some way for the FCC to back out of the forbearance, and use title II to expand their power. I haven't read the order since it's not out yet, so I'm not sure who's telling the truth.

He is towing the party line, but it's because his position is consistent with the party he's part of. This law hugely expands the FCC's authority and gives it a lot of discretionary power. I'm not too worried about it, mainly because the FCC is incredibly sluggish at doing anything and doesn't have much of a political backbone (so I doubt they'll overreach), but he is, and i'm sure most conservatives are too.

It's popular on Reddit to call everyone who's anti-net-neutrality a shill, but that's simply not the case. There are reasons to disagree with it, not everything is as clear cut as late-night comedians make it out to be. For me, whether or not the republicans even have a leg to stand on comes down to who's right about forbearance, and when's the last time you even saw the word "forbearance" mentioned on reddit?

TL;DR The dissenting commissioners aren't idiots and they aren't corporate shills. They voted the party line because it's consistent with their party's general platform. There are flaws in their arguments, but that doesn't mean they're morons.

/r/news Thread Link - engadget.com