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ACA Calls Title II Costly, Harmful, Unnecessary

The American Cable Association has taken what it hopes will be a parting shot at Title II classification its members.

In its comments to the FCC--the deadline for official comments was Aug. 30--ACA told the FCC that Title II reclassification had been costly; harmful, particularly to its members, and unnecessary.

Costly and harmful, it said, because of the "concrete economic harms" it has already inflicted as witness five member company declarations; unnecessary because 1) the industry is uniformly supportive of an open internet, because its smaller ISP members lack the ability to be the "gatekeepers" the FCC branded ISPs in defending reclassification; because 2) the commission has authority under Sec. 706 to adopt net neutrality rules and transparency requirements without Title II; and 3), and even if the FCC concludes it does not, Congress is the best place to resolve that.

"Title II reclassification was harmful because it was a classic case of government overreach, unnecessary as a matter of economics, and incorrect as a matter of law," ACA told the commission. "It was especially harmful to smaller ISPs, their customers and communities because it increased smaller ISP costs while decreasing their incentive and ability to invest in broadband Internet infrastructure and offer innovative or beneficial new features and services to consumers."

Most ISPs have begun adopting the "end the regulatory ping-pong game" approach to advocating for Congress to step in, though in the current Congress that is a tough ask.

ACA called on the FCC to preempt state and local broadband regs, to declare broadband access to be an interstate service, establish regulator parity between mobile and fixed--which the 2015 Open Internet order did, and, just to make sure the Title II rollback sticks, forbear from "all" Title II common carrier regulation of internet access.

While theoretically FCC Chairman Ajit Pai could schedule a public vote on a new framework as early as the Sept. 28 meeting, that is unlikely given the volume of comments and attention on the issue.

ACA says it will schedule meetings with the FCC to press its case and make sure that, "whatever happens," its members, smaller and midsized ISPs, will be sufficiently protected.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.