New FCC stops investigations of violations to Net Neutrality
New FCC stops investigations of violations to Net Neutrality. Image: Democracy Now!

Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, revealed they would be stopping the current investigation into AT&T and Verizon, along with another telecom companies due to business malpractices.

The reason was that the FCC saw them as anti-competitive and was violating the net neutrality rules. The investigations were made by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

However, since President Trump’s new staff was getting settled, Ajit Pai was designated as the new chairman of the FCC. As a result, the FCC dropped the investigation on telecom companies, such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Old FCC wanted to Zero Rating programs

The free data or zero-rating happens when data from streaming, from music to videos, is not counted on the user’s data use. Companies just like T-Mobile’s Binge-On or AT&T’s DirecTV Now used this streaming service.

Now, these services were the main reason for former Chairman Wheeler to start investigating these companies along with other ones, for a total of 9 telecom groups.

On February 3rd, the FCC stated that they would stop the current investigation into AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Comcast. A letter from the FCC revealed that the investigations would no longer have a legal meaning going forward.

Also, Pai said in an official statement the closure of these inquiries was a sign the the FCC was steering toward a new direction.

“These free data plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly low-income Americans, and have enhanced competition in the wireless marketplace,” said Pai.

Pai said the FCC was going forward. The FCC will not focus on denying Americans free data. Instead, he stated they would concentrate on expanding broadband deployment and encouraging innovative service offerings.

Lifeline program might be Pai’s next target

The federal agency has a program called Lifeline, which is for low-income consumers. Its objective is to give Americans mobile data plans at affordable rates. This program is currently serving to about 13 million Americans.

Back in March 2016, the FCC did a renewal of this program. It was adopted as a comprehensive reform and modernization that included broadband as a support service for the new Lifeline program.

This modernization was made by Wheeler, who thought that it was necessary to extend the financial benefits to broadband internet. Pai, along with fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly were opposing that decision at the time, arguing that doing it will leave an open possibility to fraud and abuse of the system.

Source: FCC