The head of the country's telecommunications regulator says there will be a vote in May on ditching Obama-era "net neutrality" rules that keep telecoms from favoring some sites and apps.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a Wednesday speech that he wants to ditch the legal basis for the net neutrality rules that regulated internet service as a utility, like phone service. He also wants to eliminate the FCC's broad powers to monitor Verizon, AT&T and Comcast for bad behavior.
He is seeking input on how to change rules barring broadband providers from blocking and slowing down websites and from charging internet companies for a "fast lane" to customers.
"Going forward, we cannot stick with regulations from the Great Depression meant to micromanage Ma Bell. Instead, we need rules that focus on growth and infrastructure investment, rules that expand high-speed Internet access everywhere and give Americans more online choice, faster speeds, and more innovation," Pai said in his speech.
Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, who developed the term "net neutrality," tweeted in response to FCC's chairman's plan to reverse the rules:
Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts released a statement fully supporting the reversal of the Title II net neutrality rule.
"To be clear, we continue to strongly support a free and open Internet and the preservation of modern, strong, and legally enforceable net neutrality protections. We don't block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content delivered over the Internet, and we are committed to continuing to manage our business and network with the goal of providing the best possible consumer experience," Roberts said in the statement.
These proposals are expected to set off a long fight in Washington.
Pai, the nation's chief telecommunications regulator, said he will seek an FCC vote at a May 18 meeting. The FCC plans to release an official proposal for the vote on Thursday.
Comcast Company is the parent company of NBCUniversal.