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Rutledge: Title II Does Not Alter Investment Strategy

Charter president Tom Rutledge says the FCC's new Title II-based net neutrality rules have not affected Charter's commitment to investing in its network.

That came in a meeting last week with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to pitch the Time Warner Cable deal.

"Mr. Rutledge agreed that the Commission’s decision to reclassify broadband Internet access under Title II has not altered Charter’s approach of investing significantly in its network to deliver cutting-edge services including faster speeds, not usage caps, and better online video at 'competitive' prices." That is according to an ex parte disclosure published in the net neutrality docket. The FCC has not yet officially opened a docket on the Charter/TWC deal.

The pitch was clearly calculated to hit all the right notes. Wheeler has essentially dismissed the argument that Title II could chill or discourage investment in the networks and has been promoting online video as a competitor to traditional video.

Rutledge echoed ISPs' pitch to the courts that they do not oppose the net neutrality bright-line rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, but have problems with the "regulatory uncertainty" and what Charter called the "potential unintended consequences" of the decision to reclassify broadband under Title II.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association—Charter is a member—has challenged the Title II reclassification in court, but says it can live with those bright-line rules under a different legal underpinning.

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.