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May 14, 2014

Broadband CEOs Urge FCC Not to Regulate Firms as Utilities

The Net neutrality saga continues as more groups and people weigh-in on just what the Federal Communications Commission’s new rules should include to make the Internet the best it can be.

The latest group to offer its two cents on the matter is the CEOs of 28 U.S. broadband providers.

The FCC’s decision to seek public comment on if Internet providers should be treated as utilities is not sitting well with the companies in question and the bosses of the firms, such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable, have penned a letter to the government agency warning against such a move.

The letter said the reclassification would jeopardize new investment in broadband infrastructure and hinder the growth of broadband technology across the country which, in turn, would hamper Internet speeds and deepen “the digital divide.”

Reclassification would result in decades of endless litigation and debate, the letter said, adding that “an economy deprived of the stable regulatory framework needed to promote future investment, innovation and consumer choice would follow.”

“Not only is it questionable that the Commission could defensibly reclassify broadband service under Title II, but also such an action would greatly distort the future development of, and investment in, tomorrow’s broadband networks and services,” the letter stated. “America’s economic future, as envisioned by President Obama and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, critically depends on continued investment and innovation in our broadband infrastructure and app economy to drive improvements in health care, education and energy.”

The group suggests seeking out “a path forward together” with all stakeholders working together to put an end “to a decade of legal and political wrangling.”

“All parts of the Internet community should be focused on working together to develop next-generation networks, applications, and services that will be critical to our global competitiveness and enhance opportunities for all Americans.”

The letter penned by the CEO comes a day after it was announced FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was revising the agency’s new Net neutrality rules after receiving 35,000 comments from the public — the majority of which condemned the proposed changes.

An FCC official has said Wheeler will announce safeguards so broadband providers will not be able to implement a “fast lane” for streaming video providers willing to shell out extra cash. The revision to the FCC’s originally proposed plan is expected to include language that enables the FCC to ensure the traffic of non-paying customers is not affected. The agency is also seeking comment on if such “paid prioritization” should be forbidden.

The commission will hold a preliminary vote on the revised rules Thursday before they are submitted for public feedback.

The FCC’s goal is to have the rules in place by the end of the year.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.