Pai: Court Victory Could Embolden FCC Toward 'More' 'Net Regs

Commissioner: Usage-based Pricing Regs, Extending Net Neutrality to Mobile Could Be in Offing

If a D.C. federal appeals court upholds the FCC's network neutrality rules, Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai expects the Democrat-led commission to expand regulation of the Internet, including into the mobile wireless space and usage-based pricing.

That came in a speech to the Phoenix Center in Washington Thursday (Dec. 6), according to a copy of the text.

Pai said the biggest action on the telecom front would likely be that court decision, rather than actions out of the commission or Congress, though he suggested an FCC defeat was more likely.

"Should the D.C. Circuit uphold the FCC’s order, I would expect to see revitalized efforts to expand the Commission’s regulation of the Internet. In particular, I would not be surprised if the FCC looked into whether we should stiffen our oversight of the network management practices of wireless broadband providers and whether we should begin to regulate usage-based pricing," he said.

While Pai said the FCC has received few network neutrality complaints, and has "done little" with any that have been filed, that could change with a court victory.

But he suggested an FCC defeat as more likely, when the question would be whether to "abandon" its effort to regulate network management practices--a characterization the current chairman would likely not concede--or attempt to reclassify broadband as a Title II service, which Pai said would "dramatically slow broadband deployment, reduce infrastructure investment, frustrate innovation, hamper job creation, and diminish economic growth."

Earlier this week, Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn declined to tell a Senate confirmation panel whether or not she would vote to impose Title II regs on Internet access.