As part of a continued mission in closing the digital divide, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is on a week-long tour of the Southern Gulf States. News 25’s Gina Tomlinson caught up with him to get his take on the recent decision to repeal net neutrality and other topics involving the FCC.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has a closer connection to the Coast after stopping in Gulfport and Pascagoula. News 25 caught up with Pai after touring the Coast Radio Group building in Gulfport. “It’s really impressive to see how getting online can really help everybody. Whether it’s the military base, we visited the Seabees this morning. We’re going to go to Pascagoula to see how the internet has been rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.”
During a week-long tour in the Southern Gulf States, Pai says the main point of discussion is how much impact internet access can have in communities big and small. “It’s critical for us to do everything we can to extend digital opportunities to everybody and that’s especially a problem in rural areas.”
Pai says rural Mississippi could benefit from the FCC’s December vote to repeal the 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations, a decision that has targeted the FCC with lawsuits. “It’s already difficult enough to build a business case for installing the internet infrastructure that allows people to get online, more heavily regulated things out of Washington, the less likely it will be for companies to build up this infrastructure.”
Net neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equal, regardless if you’re checking Facebook, streaming a movie, or posting a picture on Instagram. It also means companies can’t favor their own content over their competitors.
Democrats and net neutrality supports will attempt to restore the rules during a “force vote” May 9th, but the petition would have to pass through the House and avoid a veto from the president. “We’re hopeful in the time to come that people will see that our approach is the one that is going to produce much better digital opportunity for all Americans.”