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AT&T: FCC's 'Third Way' Would Be Road To Ruin

In reply comments submitted to the FCC Thursday, AT&T told the commission that its proposal to reclassify broadband transmissions as a telecommunications service subject to some Title II common carrier regs--FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's so-called "third way" proposal" would be a "road to ruin" based on "incontrovertible" evidence in the public record. 

Not mincing any words, the phone company told the FCC that its plan would deliver none of the benefits touted by the chairman, would not stand up in court, would thwart the Obama administration's broadband agenda (ouch!), would "abandon" light-touch regulation, widen the digital divide, and would hurt job growth, investment, and the chairman's much-vaunted "innovation."

 And, speaking from experience, AT&T said: "Whether or not accompanied by partial regulatory forbearance, reclassification would, for the first time ever, saddle the broadband industry with regulation originally developed for telephone monopolists seventy-five years ago."

AT&T also says that over half of the combined members of the House and Senate have urged the FCC to reject Title II reclassification, while industry reaction ranged from anxiety to "incredulous dismay."

AT&T dismisses Title II supporters like Free Press and Public Knowledge as "inside-the-beltway" interest groups who have never run a big business and are oblivious to the costs and implications of reclassification.

The company warns that reclassifying broadband could encourage state governments to step in, arguing that states have been much more active in regulating services categorized as telecommunications rather than information. "[T]hey have displayed a strong appetite for regulation of any service whenever the Commission has not explicitly preempted their authority," it said, citing fixed VoIP service.

"The third way is plainly, very much the wrong way," said AT&T.