Starting the 3rd week of the Trump Administration and the Pai led Federal Communications Commission, major things have happened regarding both. Every two weeks we'll do a report on the actions and news regarding the FCC. Within the two full weeks of Ajit Pai's FCC, some regulations have been cut, investigations dropped, and the industry has loved every minute of it.
Ajit Pai has made it clear that net neutrality is going down one way or another, and he is beginning the process of doing just that. Per Dallas Business Journal, today the FCC dropped its investigation into AT&T offering "zero-rating", which lets users stream DirecTV without counting against their data. Win for both the consumer and business right there. According to Inc, Pai stated "free data plans are popular with consumers and improve competition". That statement fits Pai's overall tone.
Pai has also made it clear that he intends to "fire up the weed whacker" referring to slashing regulations and policies regarding net neutrality. It's absurd to think ISPs will purposely prevent you from getting on a website or accessing apps like Netflix, the only thing preventing that will be your Internet connection or data caps. Also, isn't that competition, or plain capitalism when you charge a bandwidth intensive, content giant like Netflix extra for a faster speed? Wait until gigabit Internet arrives, then everyone will have faster speeds.
It's no secret the telecommunications and media industries are opposed to net neutrality, so it's only best to let the FCC and the industries work together and do what's best for the consumer in the end. Put it this way, it'll be a win-win for consumers and businesses.
The FCC also had a spectrum auction, according to Broadcasting & Cable, which lasted 34 rounds generating almost $19.4 billion in bidding revenue. This auction, according to the same article, is the FCC's second largest spectrum auction in revenue. The auction will continue this week. The FCC auctions off "space" in the electromagnetic spectrum that radio, satellites, and wireless devices depend on to function.
The FCC however just put the brakes on, former chairman Tom Wheeler's, Lifeline Support for Affordable Communications according to Digital Trends. Per that same article, the program was aimed at bridging the digital divide by giving nine ISPs subsidies of $9.25 a month for each eligible customer. According to the same article there are about 13 million eligible customers. The customers that may be affected by this can still use the Federal Lifeline Program for their communications needs.
Chairman Pai defended his decision according to the same Digital Trends article that, the provisions did not have "support of the majority of commissioners". Also according to The American Genius, Pai claimed $400 million has been lost annually due to "wasteful and negligent acts". In 2013 Slash Gear reported a subsidy scam within the Lifeline regarding the ISPs taking part in the program.
For those who don't know, President Ronald Reagan created the Universal Service Lifeline Program, where those who pay a phone bill pay a "Universal Service" fee to fund telephone connection for lower income/rural area folks. Wheeler's program was aimed at broadband for those same folks, but as Pai stated has had a rocky roll out and has lost money, so it's being halted for the time being. It's tough, but it's absurd to think Ajit Pai doesn't want poor and rural people to have Internet access.
On a different note, the FCC isn't defending their regulation on prison phone rate fees within state lines. This is all per The Verge. In 2015 the FCC went to implement rates for prison phone calls within state lines, but the prison phone industry sued the FCC for the action. Ajit Pai has stated in a letter he will not defend the agency, basically putting the case to rest, and a win for the prison phone agency and the taxpayers.
Ajit Pai is doing a lot of things in a short amount of time, sort of like President Trump, and it's having like results where people are freaking out. Just relax. Pai knows exactly what he's doing, and is more than qualified to be the Chairman of the FCC. He has winning for not just the industries in which he oversees, but winning for the consumer is his true goal. Pai has shown throughout his career, and is showing it now, he is pro-growth, pro-competition, pro-deregulation, and most importantly pro-consumer. Look forward to more good news to the market and consumer from the FCC.