Broadband Breakfast Insight: Last Week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona presented Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai with his first opportunity to law out his vision for communications. This recap from the Benton Foundation’s Robbie McBeath critiques his approach to the subject.
Blame It On The Barcelona (Or Alternative Titles To Celebrate Alternative Facts)
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai delivered his first major address on the global stage at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Chairman Pai outlined a policy agenda aimed at bringing faster and cheaper broadband to all Americans: promoting infrastructure investment, fostering innovation, and expanding next-generation networks. The key ingredient, from Pai’s perspective, is a light-touch regulatory approach.
A majority of Pai’s speech was spent extolling the virtues of a light-touch regulatory approach and the free market. Just five weeks into his Chairmanship, he took credit for spurring competition in wireless data offerings. Pai noted his move to end the FCC’s investigation into “zero-ratings” – free data offerings by wireless providers for content the carriers select – and the moves by carriers to launch or improve unlimited data offerings. In ars technica Jon Brodkin writes, “If carriers don’t limit the amount of data mobile customers can use each month, there’s no reason for online content providers to pay the carriers for zero-rating. While data caps are hated by customers, they create a scarcity that can be monetized by carriers as long as the FCC allows paid zero-rating.”
And, importantly, there were already unlimited data plans before Pai became Chairman — three of the four major carriers were selling unlimited data plans before Donald Trump won the 2016 election.
(Photo of Barcelona by Jorge Franganillo.)