FCC Republicans confirm they’ll act to topple net neutrality as quickly as possible

Net neutrality is firmly on the chopping block in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election. The two Republican members of the FCC, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, have made this clear in a letter sent to small ISPs with less than 100,000 subscribers, in which they vow to revisit both the issue of requiring ISPs to be transparent as regards their services and pricing, as well as net neutrality itself. Incoming President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he opposes net neutrality, as have Pai and O’Rielly, and the regulatory scheme that implements it is not long expected to survive Trump’s taking office.

The current net neutrality rules date back to 2014, when the FCC classified broadband carriers as common carriers for the purposes of requiring them to treat all Internet traffic equally, rather than using service tiers and fees to create different quality of service depending on what the end-user is willing to pay. Under the current rules, AT&T, Comcast, and other wireline providers are required to treat traffic flowing over wired installations as equal — Comcast can’t sell you a plan in which it offers low latencies for gaming but then withhold that service from a different plan unless a specific fee is paid. It’s not hard to see why ISPs opposed this move — given the absolutely miserable state of competition in the US broadband market, nothing would make the large Internet Service Providers happier than being able to nickel-and-dime users for acceptable performance from sites and services that rely on low ping times to function effectively.