by Tony Romm
April 5, 2017
There’s plenty at stake for the streaming hardware and software company.
Roku appears to be arming itself for the coming net neutrality war.
The web video streaming and hardware company has plenty at stake as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to pull back rules that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.
For Roku and others in the business, an end to the Obama-era protections could make it harder — or, in some cases, more expensive — to offer content or services to customers at top download speeds.
That’s why Roku has hired a pair of Republican lobbyists through an outside government-affairs firm, according to a federal ethics reports filed this week, specifically to focus on net neutrality. It’s the first time the company has ever retained lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
Many in the tech industry support the Obama-era FCC’s net neutrality rules, which currently subject telecom companies to utility-style regulation. To Democrats, it’s the only way to stop the likes of AT&T, Comcast*, Charter or Verizon from blocking competing services or charging media companies for faster delivery of their content.
But Republicans, including new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, have long opposed that approach. In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has “pledged to reverse this overreach,” in the words of White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Senior Republicans, however, are mum on the timeline or plan.