Big broadband companies such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon scored a big victory on Tuesday: FCC chief Ajit Pai is following through on his pledge to ditch net neutrality. More specifically, Pai has taken a key step toward repealing 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally. The concept, known as net neutrality, imposed utility-style regulation on ISPs to prevent them from favoring their own digital services over their rivals, reports the AP. Pai believes the net neutrality rules adopted during the Obama administration discourage the ISPs from making investments in their network to provide even better and faster online access. Supporters of net neutrality think customers will end up being gouged when the rules go away, as the companies set higher prices for certain content.
Pai distributed his alternative plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote on the proposal. That vote "could reshape the entire digital ecosystem," per the Washington Post, which expects Pai's plan to be approved. The FCC chief promised to release his entire proposal Wednesday. Pai's attack on net neutrality has triggered protests from consumer groups, but he defended the move in a statement to reporters. “Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”