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Fixed Broadband Provider Criticizes Net Neutrality Regs

Saying he is the first fixed wireless service provider (WISP) to testify before Congress, Laurence "Brett"
Glass, owner of Lariat in Laramie, Wyo., plans to tell the House Judiciary Subcommittee on IP, Competition and the Internet that the FCC's new network neutrality rules will put his company at risk.

That is according to his prepared testimony, a copy of which was obtained by B&C.

He will argue that ISPs have "never" censored third-party content, that even the FCC's threat of adopting rules "drove away investors," and that the final rules--adopted Dec. 21--are vague and invite expense "legal wrangling" that no small business like his can afford.

Joining Glass in slamming the FCC's new rules as a bad idea was Larry Downes, adjunct fellow at
TechFreedom. According to Downes' testimony, there is no evidence for regulatory intervention by the FCC to "save" (his quotes) what he sees as a robust ecosystem, or authority from Congress for it to do so.

He suggested the FCC had embalmed the 'net rather than empowered it. "In its haste to pass something before the new Congress convened, the majority has interfered with the continued evolution of this vital technology, preserving the Open Internet in the same way that amber preserves prehistoric insects."

In addition, says Downes, there was no need for regulation, the final rules were not much of a compromise from the original proposal, enforcement is complex and expensive, the commission "profoundly" misunderstands an "open Internet," and the FCC likely knew it did not have the authority to issue the rules.

Of the three scheduled witnesses for the Tuesday (Feb. 15) hearing on net neutrality and antitrust, only Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, weighed in on the FCC's side, though she thinks the open Internet needs even more protections, including conditions on online competition similar to those the government imposed on the Comcast/NBCU merger.

She said the rules are needed to protect against monopoly and duopoly behavior. While Glass says no ISP has censored third-party content, Sohn begs to differ saying "there is a documented history of harmful actions taken by broadband Internet access providers."

And while congressional Republicans are threatening to try and repeal the rules via the Congressional Review Act, Sohn says that move would "end" an open Internet.