FCC net neutrality vote triggers telco doomsday predictions

May 15, 2014
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FCC net neutrality vote triggers telco doomsday predictions

The FCC's vote on net neutrality proposals is sinking in, and carriers, telcos, and others with a vested interest have spared little time weighing in with their position. Unsurprisingly some of the heavyweights like Comcast and Verizon aren't mincing their words, with the general stance being one of eagerness for clarity, but at the same time warning of ominous times if things don't go exactly how they're hoping.

Verizon, for instance, mentions the "bipartisan consensus for light-touch regulation" that is claims was motivation for its broadband investment.

There's a sting in the tail, though. "One thing is clear," the company writes, "for the FCC to impose 1930s utility regulation on the Internet would lead to years of legal and regulatory uncertainty and would jeopardize investment and innovation in broadband."

Comcast also says that it's ready to embrace "a free and open internet" but demanding that it still have "the need to allow network operators to manage their networks reasonably." It too plays the private investment card, echoing Verizon.

Should the FCC look to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, as some have suggested would be the best way to force equality, Comcast certainly isn't sparing the hyperbole. Such a move would "spark massive instability, create investor and marketplace uncertainty, derail planned investments, slow broadband adoption, and kill jobs in America" it insists.

AT&T starts out relatively placid, reiterating its preference for the existing 2010 framework, and then arguing that the discussion around net neutrality has wrongly tried to make different tiers of service its focus:

"This debate has been falsely labeled as a debate over fast lanes and slow lanes. It is not about that at all. This debate is over whether we will continue to foster an investment environment that has allowed US companies to build the world’s best networks so that all consumers can have the fastest Internet lanes in the world" Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs

The temptation to make some doomsday predictions is too great, however, and Cicconi concludes by suggesting that if the FCC is too heavy-handed it could cause global instability and set a bad example for other countries. "This could encourage other countries to pursue their own goals," he claims, "whether to suppress 'dangerous' speech or extract economic value from American Internet and content companies."

The White House, meanwhile, says that President Obama "will be watching closely as the process moves forward in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality."

FCC "Net Neutrality" Vote: What Just Happened?

However, even within the FCC there's no consensus. Each of the different commissioners on the committee ended up issuing separate statements, and couldn't reach a unified decision during today's discussions.

Commissioner O'Rielly voiced his concerns that the FCC was looking to "a faulty foundation of make-believe statutory authority," while Commissioner Rosenworscel disagreed with him, and concurred with the proposal today, even if she took issue with the route it had taken. "I believe the process that got us to this rulemaking today is flawed," she admitted. "I would have preferred a delay. I think we moved too fast to be fair."

SOURCE Verizon; AT&T; Comcast; White House; FCC


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