Seeking Protection via Congressional Action

The following is excerpted from National Cable & Telecommunications Association president and CEO Michael Powell’s prepared testimony for the House Communications & Internet Subcommittee meeting Jan. 21, at which he advocated for legislation clarifying the Federal Communications Commission’s regulatory authority over Internet access.

Whether or not Section 706 can serve as a source of FCC authority for sufficiently effective Internet regulation (and we believe it can), and whether or not the FCC can reclassify broadband as a Title II service (and we believe it cannot), it has become increasingly clear that regardless of which conclusion the FCC reaches, any FCC decision will result in this issue being brought back to court for the third time.

And while the legal challenge proceeds, the broadband industry will be left with years more of regulatory uncertainty, with [its] most highly advanced service potentially subject to decades-old laws designed for monopoly telephone companies in the meantime. And no one can fairly predict what will be the outcome of the litigation.

The Internet is a feat of human ingenuity that has thrived in an environment of light-touch regulation, fueling America’s economic growth, facilitating civic participation, and enabling a dizzying array of communications, entertainment and educational options. America is home to the world’s top Web companies, and exciting startups are born every day. In short, broadband providers’ massive investment of private risk capital has spurred the development of an Internet ecosystem that now occupies a central place in our lives.

As we have repeatedly and consistently said, cable broadband providers are unequivocally committed to building and maintaining an open Internet experience. Maintaining an open Internet is not only the right thing to do, it is vital to our ability to attract and retain customers. But keeping America’s broadband momentum moving forward requires a continued light regulatory touch, and preserving and protecting the open Internet need not, and should not, come at the expense of future investment and innovation.

The goal of everyone sitting in this room today is the same — to develop a sound public policy that preserves and facilitates the “virtuous circle” of innovation, demand for Internet services and deployment of broadband infrastructure. The right path forward is one that will continue to fuel private network investment that is essential to the continued growth and health of the Internet.

[The] NCTA wholeheartedly supports the legislative proposal before us today, which is well tailored to meet the policy goals articulated by the FCC and [the House Communications & Internet Sub]committee. Additionally, we are entirely open to changes that would bring the two sides fully together.