Powell: 'Internet Doesn't Need Phone-Era Rules'

"Americans deserve an open Internet: They had it before the D.C. Court decision, and they will continue to enjoy it now," National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell said in an op ed Friday in USA Today.

That decision was the Jan. 14 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacating the major portions of the FCC's 2010 Open Internet order.

The court upheld the FCC's authority to regulate broadband and sent the rules back to the commission for another pass at making those rules square with the law, including potentially applying Title II common carrier regulations that trigger mandatory access.

Powell is a voice of some experience on the subject. He was FCC chairman when the commission voted to classify cable broadband service as an information service not subject to mandatory access.

"Some are unsatisfied and want the FCC to retreat from its bipartisan policy of light regulation and dump Internet services into the heavy regulatory bucket of the old-monopoly telephone system," Powell wrote. "The FCC would gain more power, but the Internet would suffer."

He also made that point this week at a House Communications Subcommittee hearing on FCC regulations.

"The FCC clearly has sufficient authority to protect consumers from harm and preserve the principles of openness we all share," he said. "We shouldn't let imaginary tales of apocalypse lead us to abandon the light regulatory model that has served the nation so well."

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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.