Rural broadband providers are praising Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai's new effort to roll back the net neutrality rules.
A group of 32 Internet service providers says in a new FCC filing that reversing the net neutrality rules will ensure that providers "continue to invest vigorously in stronger, faster networks for consumers."
At the same time, the companies insist that they support some of the open Internet principles -- including the idea that network providers shouldn't block content. "Each of us believes profoundly in preserving internet freedom, and we would never consider acting contrary to the interests of our customers," the ISPs write in a letter submitted to the FCC Thursday. "You can call anyone you want and say anything you like on the telephone. Our customers deserve -- and have always enjoyed -- these same freedoms online, so we take no issue with efforts to safeguard these freedoms."
Nonetheless, they say carriers should be "free from the bureaucratic straightjacket of outdated regulations known as Title II."
But there's a problem with the ISPs' argument to Pai: Years ago, the FCC crafted net neutrality rules, but didn't also classify broadband as a utility service. Those rules were all invalidated in 2014, when a federal appellate court said the FCC lacked authority to impose open Internet rules unless it first categorized broadband as a utility service.
ISPs are not the only ones to weigh in on Pai's plan.
Advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as Silicon Valley startups, quickly emerged as vocal opponents of the FCC chair's attempt to roll back the net neutrality rules.
More than 1,000 startups so far have signed a letter urging Pai to back away from his plan to repeal the net neutrality order.
"Without net neutrality, the incumbents who provide access to the Internet would be able to pick winners or losers in the market," the companies write. "They could impede traffic from our services in order to favor their own services or established competitors. Or they could impose new tolls on us, inhibiting consumer choice."
The letter was written by Y Combination, Engine and Techstart and signed by tech companies including Etsy, Foursquare and Reddit.