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Broadband for America, But Not for Title II

Broadband for America cochairs and former congressmen Harold Ford. Jr. and John Sununu Friday made their case to reporters for why the FCC should take the Title II option off the table.

Broadband For America members include the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, AT&T and Verizon.

Sununu and Ford tag-teamed the talk, but the bottom line was that the Internet had been growing leaps and bounds, innovating, getting faster, and drawing billions in investment, and that switching to Title II common carrier regs would grind that to a halt.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed sticking with Sec. 706 authority, but in the just-voted notice of proposed rulemaking on new Open Internet rules, asked how Title II could be used, and promised he was ready to use it if necessary.

Ford and Sununu signaled it would not be. They said ISPs aren't blocking and degrading because it was not in their interest. They said that their members had been abiding by the open Internet order that had been in place before the court remanded it, and the court was very clear that those standards could be restored using existing authority in a way that would survive scrutiny and require Title II.

They said the key for the FCC is to realize that Title II would discourage investment and innovation.

They did not take for granted that the FCC would agree on any new net neutrality rules, saying that beyond the divided vote--three Democrats and two Republicans, the Democrats seemed more divided. The vote was 3-2, but Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel stopped short of a yes vote, only "concurring" to the decision. She wanted the vote delayed and said it had been "too rushed to be fair."

The FCC will be collecting comments for the next four months, with initial comments due mid-July.