Pai: FCC Should Close Title II Docket ASAP

Would Signal Agency Won't Apply Legacy Regs to IP-Delivered Marketplace

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said Tuesday that the FCC should not apply 20th century legacy regulation to an increasingly IP-delivered communications world, starting with closing the Title II docket.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has said the docket, the commission's initial proposal to regulate Internet access service under some common carrier regs, would remain open as an aide to Congress, though some industry players see it as a fallback position in case a federal appeals court throws out the agency's compromise approach to its Open Internet order.

Pai said closing Title II would signal to the marketplace that the FCC was not going to apply a Back to the Future approach.

Pai was speaking at a Communications Liberty and Innovation Project panel discussion on the transition to IP-delivery.

He called the FCC's "silo" approach to regulation "hopelessly outdated," and said the Title II was one of those outdated regulatory approaches the FCC should abandon.

Pai said that a regulatory model based on monopolists with copper wire no longer cuts it and that if the FCC wants to free up some of the investment capital sitting on the sidelines due to regulatory uncertainty, it should recognize the technology shift and adjust its regulation accordingly.

He gave Genachowski credit for doing that in the shift of Universal Service Fund subsidies from phone to broadband, but added that was just one pieces of the puzzle.

Pai put in a pitch for cutting through the maze of regulation at the local level. He cited Google Fiber, pointing out that Kansas City only won the right to be Google's video/broadband testbed because the city pledged to streamline its rights of way policies and permitting process. It should not take a nationwide competition to cut through that maze, said Pai. He also opined that it should not take years for AT&T to be able to deploy U-Verse in San Francisco.

On that note, Pai commended Gov. Jerry Brown for signing legislation limiting IP regulations, saying that should be a model at the federal level.

On the panel session following Pai's remarks, Jeff Silva, senior policy director, telecommunications, Medley Global Advisors LLC, agreed with Pai that too many regulatory disincentives will chill broadband investment and would take a toll on the economy.

Pai and panelists agreed that there are baseline consumer protections, like e-911, that need to remain, but that economic regulations need revision (and ultimately the 1996 Communications Act need to be rewritten).

Pai suggested that the FCC should create an IP transition task force to help modernize its net regs.