Smaller Manufacturers Take Aim at Title II

A group of small and mid-sized manufacturers of broadband network products has told the FCC to roll back Title II, just one in a wave of comments coming in to the FCC by July 17, the deadline for initial comments in FCC chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to reclassify ISPs as information services free of common carrier regs.

The makers of modems and routers, switching equipment and semiconductors—which included Blonder Tongue Labs, FiberSource, Infinera and more than a dozen others—say their input should get "special weight" since the D.C. appeals court that has principal jurisdiction over FCC issues has said those who sell goods and services have an "incentive to make a completely unbiased judgment on the matter."

Their judgment, they told the FCC, is that there is a "serious and substantial risk" that continuing to regulate broadband under Title II "will have a negative impact on the economic well-being of the numerous small and medium size companies that make hardware and software used to provide Internet services."

A lowering tide strands all boats when it comes to broadband equipment, they suggested, particularly the smaller ones that may only be making products for the affected industry rather than a broader base that will absorb the hit, and smaller companies have a more concentrated client base.

While one of the knocks on ISPs from their critics is that they advise Wall Street that Title II is not a big deal while telling Washington something different (ISPs dispute that characterization), the manufacturers say they have definitely let investors know that Title II is an economic risk.

And the risk is not just to their bottom lines, they told the FCC. "A policy that causes economic harm to small and mid-size manufacturing companies does not just damage the manufacturers themselves, it also harms innovation," they said.

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.