'Shallow at Best and Ridiculous at Worst': Analysis Eviscerates FCC Chair's Arguments for Killing Net Neutrality

A new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found that Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s reasoning behind forcing a deeply unpopular repeal of federal net neutrality rules “to be shallow at best and ridiculous at worst.”

In December of 2017, the FCC voted along party-lines to roll back Title II rules that barred internet service providers (ISPs) from prioritizing certain online content. While digital rights advocates continue to fight the decision, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has so far declined to schedule a vote on a Senate-approved Congressional Reveiew Act (CRA) resolution to overturn the regulators’ ruling, so the repeal officially took effect Monday. 

Pai justified the move with claims that the regulations caused a decline in broadband deployment, based upon “several outside reports that suggested carriers curtailed spending on upgrading and expanding their broadband networks when they feared regulations would erode financial returns.” In other words, he believed that rules which aimed to protect consumers resulted in fewer people having internet access. That justfication, as CPI outlined in a report co-published by Salon, “is bogus.”

Based on a review of Census and FCC data, CPI found that “while wireline deployment did slow while network neutrality rules were in place, it was due to at least one reason that had nothing to do with regulation: carriers were running out of potential customers.” In spite of this, “Pai made no mention of the possibility that customer bases were reaching maximum capacity when he cast net neutrality as the bogeyman in May congressional testimony and during a March American Cable Association annual summit.”