On Thursday, Trump’s FCC voted to stop local municipalities and governments from regulating cable-networked broadband. The decision also limits what can be charged of cable companies. The decision to push forward with this dubious legal move on the part of Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, will likely be met with new lawsuits. The fundamental legal contradiction on the part of the Republican FCC is that in order to do away with net neutrality protections they have argued that broadband is an information service that the FCC cannot regulate. In so doing, they cannot tell local municipalities how to regulate those services in regards to the public good.
As with all of Pai and the Republican-controlled FCC’s moves, conservatives have told the public that these moves will free up the monopolistic and duopolistic telecoms to deploy more broadband to communities needing updated telecommunications, saying “every dollar paid in excessive fees is a dollar that by definition cannot and will not be invested in upgrading and expanding networks.”
However, as Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel explained, in her decision to vote against Pai’s continued attempts at squashing all consumer protections, "Comb through the text of this decision. You will not find a single commitment made to providing more broadband service in remote communities. There is no enforceable obligation to expand broadband capacity. There is no agreement that any savings from today's action is pushed into new network deployment. I fear this absence speaks volumes."
The other Democrat on the FCC Geoffrey Starks, pointed out in his dissent that local municipalities that use their abilities to fund essential infrastructure for education and government through franchise agreements are now in jeopardy, "Free or discounted service to cash-strapped schools, provision of critical I-Nets, discounts to vulnerable communities—all of these franchise terms advance the public interest and are a small imposition given the value received by providers in franchise negotiations." Starks called the FCC’s action “unnecessary.”
New York—one of the wealthier and better-resourced “municipalities”—wrote to the FCC last week to argue against today’s decision, explaining that important infrastructure like fire stations receive free internet and cable in their deals, and today’s decision would put those services into danger. “There are no viable alternative services available to the city. The only potential long-term solution would be to build a parallel network which will take years and cost a massive amount of money.”
Every single time conservative elements of our society proclaim that deregulating big business operations, like telecommunications, will trickle down and magically turn into consumer benefits, they are wrong. They are so wrong. Every time. And history is so clear on the matter, that one must begin to wonder if they have even the slightest conviction that they are right. In fact, one might even say they are transparently shills for big business with zero interest in what is best for the majority of Americans and consumers.