Bits: Daily Report: F.C.C. Boss Wants to Listen to Tech After All

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Ajit Pai, the F.C.C. chairman, in Washington in February. The agency voted on Thursday to roll back rules restricting telecom companies and broadcasters. Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

It turns out the technology companies may not be on the “pay no mind” list in Washington after all.

After weeks of reversals on tech-friendly Obama-era policies, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said on Thursday that he had met with executives from Facebook, Intel, Cisco and Oracle to discuss his plans to unwind parts of net neutrality rules, which require broadband providers to make all internet content equally accessible for consumers. He is expected to introduce a proposal as early as this month.

As Cecilia Kang writes, Mr. Pai said he believed the companies wanted to find “common ground.” He also recently met with the Internet Association, a trade group that represents Facebook, Google and Netflix.

Was this sincere outreach or window dressing?

It is interesting to note that of the four companies, only Facebook was born on the internet and does almost of all of its business online. Intel sells chips. Cisco sells networking gear. Oracle sells software.

Yes, they all have internet-based businesses. (Oracle, in particular, says its cloud-computing business is growing fast.) And their bottom lines are all dependent on the healthy growth of the internet.

But they are all already cash-rich companies, able to afford all but the most ridiculous internet-access rates. None of them are the sort of businesses that could be hurt most by changes to net neutrality — internet-based start-ups that can’t afford high prices.

If Mr. Pai’s overtures are to be considered sincere by the tech industry, he will have to understand the risks for the little guys that could make up the next generation of giants.

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