The FCC consists of five members, currently two Republicans and Three Democrats, including Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler recently unveiled his plan to tackle the sticky net neutrality question before them, a plan pubicly endorsed by President Obama, calling for the use of Title II or public utility-style regulation to protect an open Internet. Predictably, the cable companies and ISPs were furious. And despite the popularity of the plan with the general public, almost 4 million of whom wrote to the FCC with the majority of those comments urging this approach, Republicans were also predictably enraged by a plan with the president’s blessing.
Outspoken commissioner Ajit Pai recently took aim at the Chairman’s plan, calling it a secret big government plot to sieze control of the Internet. He also stated that rate regulation would be inevitable, despite Chairman Wheeler’s claims to the contrary, and warned that the proposal would lead to “billions of dollars in new taxes” on the Internet. Despite Pai’s objections, an FCC spokesperson has sinsisted that the proposal would not regulate broadband service prices.
Now Commissioner Pai’s lone Republican colleague, Michael O’Reilly, has spoken up about the plan as well, again casting doubt on Wheeler’s claims that rate regulation, which is included in Title II of the Telecommunications Act, would not be applied to ISPs. Wheeler’s plan includes forbearance from several of the regulatory powers granted by Title II, though O’Reilly has dubbed it “fauxbearance,” believing as Pai does that FCC will overstep its presently stated objectives.