(Bloomberg) — Republican regulators moving to kill Obama-era open internet regulations say one big reason for their action is that the rules have depressed investment in broadband.
But much of the research being held up by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to justify rescinding that rule comes from the very companies that stand to benefit and their advocates. Even some of the authors involved question whether all the research cited by regulators is valid.
“This is a classic case of garbage in, garbage out,” said telecom industry analyst Craig Moffett, a founding partner of New York-based MoffettNathanson. “There are so many other factors that drive capital investment beyond just regulatory environment.”
With the FCC poised to vote Thursday to eliminate the 2015 restrictions on internet service providers, or ISPs, the seemingly academic question of how reliable the studies are could quickly become critical when opponents file lawsuits asking judges to undo the vote.
Under laws designed to prevent wide swings in policy during changes in administrations, Pai will need to prove that scrapping the rules is justified by changes in conditions since they were put in place. The move can’t be arbitrary or capricious, according to a law that sets out procedures for federal rulemaking.
It will be difficult “for the agency to justify a major turnaround based on data from such a short time frame,” said Andrew