Carr Pitches Net Neutrality Rule Rollback in Belgium

Talks up FTC as new cop on beat

FCC commissioner Brendan Carr took Republicans' defense of their Dec. 14 network neutrality regulation rollback across The Pond Wednesday (Jan. 31) in a speech at a regulatory conference in Brussels about promoting 5G.

He told his audience that a return to a light regulatory hand on the tiller translated to the kind of incentives necessary to "unleash" investment in the next gen wireless network.

On that front he cited the FCC, under chair Ajit Pai, ending the investigation into zero rating plans, which the prior FCC had suggested likely violated the FCC's net neutrality rules. "In the wake of that decision, we have seen operators in the United States continue to experiment with innovative new offerings and plans — all to the benefit of consumers."

And soon there will be no net neutrality rules to violate. His second point was the Dec. 14 vote to eliminate the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, as well as the general conduct standard under which the FCC had been investigating zero rating plans.

"The United States’ two-year experiment with heavy-handed regulation of the Internet failed," he said, echoing the message of ISPS.

"We saw broadband investment decline, innovative new service offerings left on the shelf, and new broadband deployments put on hold.

In fact, during the FCC’s two-year detour, we saw broadband investment in the United States decline by $3.6 billion — or more than 5%.

This is the first time we saw any such decline outside of a recession." Democrats dispute that claim.

Carr also put in a plug for the Federal Trade Commission as the new ISP cop on the beat.

"By reversing that decision, we have restored the authority of the Federal Trade Commission over U.S. operators. So if an operator engages in anticompetitive or harmful practices, the Federal Trade Commission is empowered to take action," he said.

Critics of the FTC's cop role cite its lack of rulemaking authority — the FTC files suit or secures settlements with those who run afoul of rules against unfair or deceptive practices, either in response to complaints or on its own initiative.