Trump’s FCC transition team may spell the end of net neutrality


The president-elect’s new FCC advisers dislike net neutrality and broadband subsidies for low-income Americans.

President-elect Trump formally named two advisers to help oversee his telecom policy agenda at the Federal Communications Commission today: Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison.

Both are fierce opponents of the network neutrality rules the agency passed last year and have long advocated against regulations aimed at reining in the already massively consolidated telecom industry, where most Americans have no more than one or two choices for broadband providers as it is.

A record-breaking four million Americans commented in the FCC proceedings in favor of passing net neutrality, which now prevents internet providers, like Comcast and Verizon, from charging websites, like Netflix and Facebook, a fee to access users at faster speeds.

Trump himself has spoken out against the FCC’s network neutrality rules.

Deregulation under a Trump presidency would be a boon to internet providers, but could be a big hit against the content companies relying on those providers.

Companies that vocally advocated for network neutrality rules, particularly those that stream video like Netflix and Vimeo, stand to suffer from having to pay internet providers to reach users, in that they would be charged to not be pushed into a slower tier of service.

Netflix, for example, accounts for over 35 percent of North American internet traffic, according to numbers released by Sandvine, the broadband analysis firm, earlier this year. Netflix was one of the most engaged proponents of net neutrality in Silicon Valley, having poured millions into lobbying efforts to pass the new rules.

Eisenach, who joined Trump as an adviser during his campaign, advocated against network neutrality during the most recent rulemaking process and has received payments from Verizon to underwrite his work.

In the 1980s, Eisenach worked on the Federal Trade Commission and FCC transition teams with President Reagan. Under Reagan, the FCC famously repealed the Fairness Doctrine and other public-interest obligations, which required broadcasters to cover news of public importance and air contrasting views.

Jamison, for his part, previously worked as a lobbyist for Sprint. He has not only opposed network neutrality rules, but also the cable set-top box rules and FCC policies to expand broadband access for low-income Americans. He currently holds a professorship at the University of Florida.

For context, the current chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, also comes from a background in industry lobbying. Before his tenure at the FCC he was the CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. But his championing net neutrality showed his willingness to advocate for the broader industry rather than just one subset.

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