April 20, 2017 Last Updated 2:12 pm

FCC votes to ease business Internet price caps, in another victory for large telecoms

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to ease regulations on the business data services market, a move that that has drawn criticism from small business and consumer advocacy groups. The vote was 2-1, with Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn dissenting.

The new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Trump, had argued that “price regulation threatens competition and investment.”

But opponents of the move say only big business will profit, with price likely to be raised on smaller businesses and start-ups.

“The pro-monopoly FCC just voted to kick American small businesses where it really hurts, in the wallet,” said Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS, the Internet and competitive networks association.

“The FCC is out of touch with consumers, out of sync with businesses and out of step with our nation’s internet infrastructure goals. We must build faster, more affordable networks of the future,” said Pickering. “Outside of the FCC, and a handful of AT&T lobbyists, there is not a single person on the planet who believes we currently have enough broadband competition. Prices are going up, and customer service is going down. That doesn’t happen in free markets with competitive choice.”

Conversely, Timothy H. Lee, senior vice president of legal and public affairs at the Center for Individual Freedom, said he believed the move would would boost investment.

“Pai’s deregulation agenda encourages private capital to continue to flow into the sector, driving more competition, increased innovation and more robust network infrastructure,” Lee wrote for The Hill.

The new make-up of the FCC has drawn the ire of progressives and small business proponents who have seen the commission move to kill off net neutrality, and consistently advocate for the large ISPs.

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