FCC chief lays out attack on 'net neutrality' rules

Here's what you need to know. Adopted by the majority of Democrats who ran the FCC at the time, the regulations reclassified how the FCC treats Internet service providers - both wired and mobile - to put them in a similar bucket to traditional telephone companies, like utilities.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai outlined a plan on Wednesday to roll back Obama-era rules on net neutrality, saying he will ask the agency to start the rule-making process to undo the regulations next month.

Supporters of the rules were anxious that "the internet would suddenly devolve into a digital dystopia of fast lanes and slow lanes", he said. He cited local companies in Arkansas and rural IL which, respectively, expressed their frustration of regulations hamstringing their operations and infrastructure investments.

Pai said Wednesday that he will propose repealing the decision to classify broadband providers as common carriers, as well as the general conduct standard. Several internet providers said they didn't plan to do those things and Comcast said Wednesday that it supported undoing the net neutrality rules but did not "block, throttle or discriminate" against internet content.

Pai, a former counsel for Verizon, has slammed the FCC's earlier approach to net neutrality as a "mistake" and begun chipping away at the edges of it. "And we are hopeful that bipartisan agreement can be reached on principles that protect internet openness, consumer choice and vibrant competition".

"Going forward, we can not stick with regulations from the Great Depression meant to micromanage Ma Bell", Mr. Pai said in prepared remarks.

Advocates and tech companies argue - as they did when pushing for these rules only a few years back - that without the oversight of FCC, internet providers will have the freeway to control which websites users visit, preferring their own services and apps over their competitors or smaller companies. "The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you're likely to get". On the broadband side, Verizon was sued by the City of NY for not following through with its contractual commitment to provide Fios access to all New Yorkers. "Days after a disappointing 2014 midterm election, and in order to energize a dispirited base, the White House released an extraordinary YouTube video instructing the FCC to implement Title II regulations".

"Net neutrality" regulations, created to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, are on the chopping block. It's no surprise that U.S. ISPs are already coming out in support of such a change.

Wood: Chairman Pai wants what he has referred to and what was referred to over and over in this press conference today - a very light regulatory framework. They say the regulations can undermine investment in broadband and introduced uncertainty about what were acceptable business practices.

"Charter's support for an open internet is an integral part of our commitment to deliver a superior broadband experience to our customers", said Charter chairman Tom Rutledge. The commission will make a provisional vote on Pai's plan on May 18th, after which a period of public comment will follow. Sprint believes that competition provides the best protection to consumers.

But, Pai is confident of winning yet another battle for internet providers.

Here's a look at what the developments mean for consumers and companies. A group of companies, including Facebook and Google, oppose the change, and have previously filed briefs with the FCC to that effect. After that, the agency would collect comments from the public and the stakeholders before crafting a detailed approach and scheduling another agency vote to adopt it.