Ajit Pai accidentally supports utility rules and open-access networksEnlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks during the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas on April 25, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Ethan Miller )
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is a big fan of former President Bill Clinton’s approach to regulating Internet service. Pai has repeatedly said that the FCC should return to Clinton-era regulatory policy, and he claims that tomorrow’s preliminary vote to reverse the classification of ISPs as “Title II” common carriers will achieve that goal.
Pai mentioned Clinton’s regulatory policies five times in the speech in which he outlined his plan to deregulate broadband providers and eliminate the current net neutrality rules.

Today’s FCC should “embrace the light-touch approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress in [the Telecommunications Act of] 1996,” he said.

The policy set in place under Clinton “enabled the Internet to grow and evolve beyond almost anyone’s expectations,” Pai said.
But returning to 1990s-era Internet regulation would require more of the Title II utility-style regulation that Pai abhors, not less. If we had 1990s and early 2000s regulatory policy, Internet providers would be forced to open their networks to companies that want to resell Internet access, potentially unleashing a wave of competition in a market where today’s consumers often have no choice of high-speed broadband providers.
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