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Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel could help bring back net neutrality

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel could help bring back net neutrality 2

After four years of being under Republican control with a 3-2 GOP majority, the five member FCC reverted back to Democratic control after the election of Joe Biden. The party of the president traditionally has a 3-2 edge which was how the regulatory agency was able to erase net neutrality from the FCC books in 2017 when Donald Trump was in the White House. Net neutrality is the Obama era rule that forced ISPs and wireless carriers to treat all streaming content on their networks the same. Thus, a company like Netflix could not make a deal to have its content streamed over a “fast lane.”
Despite a public that was in favor of net neutrality, the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai (a Trump appointee), voted along party lines and the rules were wiped off the books. One of the two votes against the removal of net neutrality was cast by Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. The latter, named a commissioner by President Barrack Obama, kept her seat thanks to Donald Trump (remember, Trump had to name two Democrats to the FCC). Now, Rosenworcel has been named acting FCC chairwoman by President Biden which amplifies the chance that net neutrality will return in the near future.

Biden’s pick for acting FCC Chairwoman voted for net neutrality and against the T-Mobile-Sprint merger

Right now, Rosenworcel’s position is only temporary although she most likely will be given the position for the remainder of Biden’s term in office. The FCC needs to add a Democrat to the current four people serving as commissioners. The fifth commissioner and third Democrat will be chosen soon, according to AppleInsider, so as to prevent and 2-2 ties on important matters like net neutrality.

According to the FCC, Rosenworcel’s goal is to “promote greater opportunity, accessibility, and affordability” when it comes to communications. When then FCC Chairman Pai led the FCC’s removal of net neutrality under the misleading “Restoring Internet Freedom” initiative vote, Jessica made it clear where she stood on net neutrality. She stated that by removing the rules of net neutrality from the agency’s books, the FCC was “on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American Public.” She added, “So let’s persist. Let’s fight. Let’s not stop here or now. It’s too important. The future depends on it.” Last February, the FCC was required to get comments from the public about the removal of net neutrality. This gave Rosenworcel the opportunity to release a new statement. “The FCC got it wrong when it repealed net neutrality,” she wrote. “My advice? The American Public should raise their voices and let Washington know how important an open internet is for every piece of our civic and commercial lives.”

The current acting FCC Chairman also voted against the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. While the transaction made it through the FCC by a 3-2 tally thanks to certain concessions  made by T-Mobile related to future 5G data speeds and market share. Despite the agreement between the agency and the carrier, Rosenworcel wasn’t convinced that the merger would be good for the public saying that it would hurt consumers by raising prices and leading to job losses. Discussing the FCC’s approval of the merger, she said that “In deciding to overlook these harms, the FCC and the Department of Justice have been wooed by a few unenforceable concessions and hollow promises from the two companies involved.”

The T-Mobile-Sprint merger would, the commissioner said, “end a golden age in wireless” that led to lower prices, innovation, unlimited data and international roaming. Her forecast, which seemingly will end up proven wrong, stated that “In short, our existing wireless market will devolve into a cozy oligopoly dominated by just three carriers. They will do nothing to make it easier for Americans to stay connected.”

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