Eau Claire (WQOW) - The new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission paid a visit to Eau Claire and Durand Tuesday. President Trump named Ajit Pai to head the FCC in March. Pai had served as a Republican member of the commission since being appointed by President Obama in 2012.
While touring the WQOW studios in Eau Claire, Pai told our Madison reporter, Greg Neumann, why he wants to roll back the "net neutrality" rules adopted in 2015. Pai said private business investment in the internet was thriving before the rule was implemented. But since 2015, he said businesses have scaled back.
"My fear is that the regulations that were adopted in 2015 on a party-line basis have been reducing investment and we've seen that in small towns and big cities alike," Pai said.
Many consumer groups said the net neutrality rule is necessary to prevent internet service providers from favoring one site over another. Without the rule, they claim companies, like Charter, could provide fast speeds for sites that pay them and slower speeds for websites that don't. That could end up killing a web service, like Netflix, in order to boost a competing service, like Hulu, according to critics.
But, Pai said there was no evidence of that happening before the rule was adopted, and he believes competition would prevent it from happening if the rule is repealed.
Pai also visited a radio station in Durand Tuesday before moving on to Minnesota. He is also discussing the challenges of getting high-speed internet service into rural areas.