FCC leaders say we need a 'national mission' to fix rural broadband

Oct 24, 2018

Full Article: https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-leaders-say-we-need-a-national-mission-to-fix-rural-broadband/

Factoring in the net neutrality repeal

Another area of disagreement between the two officials is the role that the repeal of the popular 2015 net neutrality rules has played in spurring investment in broadband infrastructure, particularly for rural carriers.

The Obama-era net neutrality rules prohibited broadband companies from blocking or slowing access to websites or online services. They also banned providers from favoring their own services over competitors' offerings. But the rules also reclassified broadband as a public utility under Title II of the Communications Act, potentially subjecting broadband and wireless networks to regulation originally meant for telephone networks.

The broadband industry and Republicans like Pai argued that saddling broadband and wireless companies with utility-style regulation developed 80 years ago stifled innovation and network investment, particularly in rural areas where capital is already constrained.

"We saw a downturn for the first time outside a recession in the two years when Title II was in effect," Pai said.

He said the rules hit smaller carriers especially hard. He pointed to Paladin Wireless in Royston, Georgia, which he said spent $8,000 in compliance under the previous rules. While that might be a small amount of money for a big company like AT&T or Verizon, he said, $8,000 to a small wireless company "could have gone a long way in terms of connecting people."