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The Chairman of the FCC Returns to His Former Haunt at Verizon Nine Days Before Vote on Net Neutrality Rules

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BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: A great little piece from the Inverse lays out how the "Chatham House" rules may protect Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai from being quoted for what he says at Verizon Communications, his former employer, nine days before net neutrality rules are set to be axed. (UPDATE 12/6: It turns out that Pai released his remarks from the event after all, and are available here.)

The Reason Ajit Pai's Keynote at Verizon in D.C. Today Is Secret The Chatham House Rule will keep his comments secret, from Inverse:

CC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a 10 a.m. keynote address at Verizon Communications’ Washington, D.C. headquarters on Tuesday, but because of an old British rule applied to the event by its organizer, the comments won’t be made public, less than ten days before Pai will push for the removal of net neutrality consumer protections.

The Chatham House Rule is “world famous” and reads as follows: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
This is convenient for Pai, as he gave the keynote at the annual Telecommunications and Media Forum put on by the London-based International Institute of Communications, and the venue is Pai’s former place of work, Verizon Communications. The International Institute of Communications operates on a not-for-profit basis “to enable the balanced, open dialogue that shapes the policy agenda. Membership fees and sponsorship enable us to do this,” the organization states on its website.

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Source: Why Ajit Pai's Keynote at Verizon in D.C. Today Will Be Kept Secret | Inverse

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress. He is an attorney who works with cities, communities and companies to promote the benefits of internet connectivity. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

1 Comment

  1. I read the arguments that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai presented at Verizon just 9 days before the big vote ending Net Neutrality rules. I found them to be completely bogus and entirely biased in favor of his former employer. It disgusts me that Pai could hold such a position given his obvious conflicts of interest, especially given the intense scrutiny I underwent before being allowed to serve as a volunteer member of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee.

    Anyone wanting to understand Pai’s motives and history should read “$200 Billion Broadband Scandal,” by Bruce Kushnick, Teletruth Chairman and New Networks Institute Executive Director. (https://www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/broadbandgrants/comments/61BF.pdf).

    This 2006 ebook tells of broken promises by the Bell companies that cost consumers over $200 billion in USF phone subsidies and cost the U.S. economy over $5 Trillion. “By now [2006], 86M US households should already have had broadband connections of 45 Mbps in each direction. The networks were to be everywhere equally, including in rural towns and low-income neighborhoods, and open to ALL competition.”

    That’s the promise the bells made to Congress in exchange for subsidies and relaxed regulations, but even though they got the money, the network expansion never happened. Instead, our nation, which invented the Internet, lost its broadband and tech leadership. It’s one of the largest scandals in American history – bigger than Enron and WorldCom. The public and its elected officials need to understand this history lesson and make sure we protect ourselves from similar events in the future. [Like the one that’s happening now under President Trump and Commissioner Pai.

    I’ve long been an advocate of Big Broadband and fiber-to-the-home, but I no longer consult in that space. Now as the current editor of Modern Health Talk, I worry about the negative effect the FCC actions will have on telehealth and the future of healthcare.

    If you’ve read this far, I think you’d like “BIG Broadband: Public Infrastructure or Private Monopolies,” a white paper I wrote about the same time that Bruce Kushnick wrote his book. (http://www.cazitech.com/bigbroadband.pdf) It was written for consumer advocates and policy makers to contrast the different incentives of incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), cable television (CATV) companies, municipalities and other stakeholders. It suggests that the capital expense of extending fiber closer to premises is high enough to cause the ILECs to cherry pick the most profitable customers in green field installations, leaving others to fend for themselves.

    That’s where public broadband comes in, but the politics can pose obstacles for municipalities wanting their own networks, so the paper also has a section explaining the fears of various stakeholders. Incumbent phone companies, like Verizon for example, fear competition from voice-over-Internet-protocol alternatives and are using their deep pockets and powerful lobbyists to delay municipal networks as long as they can.

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