Phone ISPs Say Title II Is Wrong Call

Telco ISPs joined cable Internet service providers in slamming the FCC over its decision, on a 3-2 vote, to reclassify them as a Title II telecommunications service.

Verizon called the decision "a net loss for innovation and consumers."

“Today’s decision by the FCC to encumber broadband Internet services with badly antiquated regulations is a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors," said Verizon senior VP Michael Glover. "Over the past two decades a bipartisan, light-touch policy approach unleashed unprecedented investment and enabled the broadband Internet age consumers now enjoy."

“The FCC today chose to change the way the commercial Internet has operated since its creation," he said. "Changing a platform that has been so successful should be done, if at all, only after careful policy analysis, full transparency, and by the legislature, which is constitutionally charged with determining policy. As a result, it is likely that history will judge today’s actions as misguided."

"Instead of a clear set of rules moving forward, with a broad set of agreement behind them, we once again face the uncertainty of litigation, and the very real potential of having to start over — again — in the future," blogged AT&T senior executive VP Jim Cicconi. "Partisan decisions taken on 3-2 votes can be undone on similarly partisan 3-2 votes only two years hence. And FCC decisions made without clear authorization by Congress — and who can honestly argue Congress intended this? — can be undone quickly by Congress or the courts. This may suit partisans who lust for issues of political division, but it isn't healthy for the Internet ecosystem, for the economy, or for our political system. And, followed to its logical conclusion, this will do long term damage to the FCC as well."

"For our part," he said, "we will continue to seek a consensus solution, and hopefully bipartisan legislation, even if we are the last voice seeking agreement rather than division. And we will hope that other voices of reason will emerge, voices who recognize that animosity, exaggeration, demonization, and fear-mongering are not a basis on which to make wise national policies."

CTIA: The Wireless Association president Meredith Attwell Baker called the decision "disappointing and unnecessary," as well as illegal — CTIA has said it would sue, and Attwell-Baker said as much again. "Given today’s FCC decision, the wireless industry will have no choice but to look to the courts and Congress for a remedy," she told B&C/Multichannel News.

Attwell-Baker said consumers "have – and will always have – access to an open mobile Internet. By ignoring the fundamental differences in wireless networks and disregarding the intense competition throughout the mobile ecosystem, the FCC abandoned a long-standing policy framework responsible for fostering America’s world-leading wireless industry. The FCC's claim that the mobile voice experience supports the FCC's efforts distorts history and the law, turning a deregulatory statute in 1993 on its head. Title II needlessly puts at risk our nation’s 5G future and the promise of a more connected life.

“The agency’s action runs counter to an express Congressional directive prohibiting the agency from treating mobile broadband like a utility service, making today’s decision not only unwise, but unlawful. The economic and legal uncertainty that will inevitably follow from the FCC’s unilateral action underscores the importance of, and urgent need for, bipartisan Congressional action that can end the net neutrality debate and allow our country’s mobile ecosystem to focus on what it does best – innovating, investing and empowering Americans’ mobile connected lives.”

USTelecom also essentiall told the FCC it would meet see it in court.

“Today’s action by the FCC is the wrong path for achieving broadband deployment in all parts of the United States," said USTelecom President Walter McCormick. "It redefines the Internet, inserts the federal government deeply into its management, and invites other countries to do the same. In reversing longstanding bipartisan precedent, and imposing public utility regulation on the most dynamic sector of our nation’s economy, the FCC is adopting policies that were not designed – nor ever intended – for the Internet. History has shown that common carrier regulation slows innovation, chills investment, and leads to increase costs on consumers. What is remarkable is that the commission’s overreach is so unnecessary. Broadband service providers are operating in complete conformance with the open Internet standards advanced by the president, we agree with the standards, we support their adoption in regulation by the FCC under Section 706, and we support their enactment into law. We will now turn to the courts for review, and given the broad consensus that exists on the underlying objectives, will look forward to working with the Congress on a bipartisan basis to advance legislation.”            

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.