WASHINGTON (CelebrityAccess) — In a controversial, but widely expected move, The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to deregulate broadband companies, dismantling “net neutrality” rules established under the Obama administration.
The rules prohibited Internet service providers from blocking certain websites or content, or for charging higher prices for access to some content. The rules also remove the classification of high-speed internet service providers as utilities.
Ajit Pai, former telecommunications lobbyist and current chairman of the FCC, said the changes would benefit consumers by allowing broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast to offer a wider variety of service options. Pai was joined in his support of the deregulation measures by his 2 fellow Republican commissioners in a 3-2 vote.
“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Mr. Pai said in a speech before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”
The controversial regulatory change faced criticism from consumers, a host of tech companies and consumer protection groups who argue that the change will result in higher prices and less content for consumers and that the FCC was ceding its authority to oversee broadband companies.
“I dissent, because I am among the millions outraged,” Mignon Clyburn, one of the two Democratic commissioners who opposed the change said. “Outraged, because the F.C.C. pulls its own teeth, abdicating responsibility to protect the nation’s broadband consumers.”
The now-repealed rules were implemented in 2015 after broadband providers such as Comcast were discovered to be throttling bandwidth for users of Comcast competitors such as Netflix, leading to public outcry at the time. Previous efforts to end net neutrality were defeated after public outcry.
While the regulations passed the FCC, opponents of the measure, including state Attorney Generals from New York and Washington, still plan to fight and have already announced plans to sue the FCC.