Stakeholders Take Sides on New Broadband Regs

Lora Bentley

What the Federal Communications Commission touted as "a third way" to accomplish net neutrality apparently isn't different enough from the original options to suit broadband carriers. InformationWeek reports "battle lines" are being drawn.


Not surprisingly, the lines are falling in pretty much the same place they were before the "third way" was introduced. Republican commissioners and the broadband service providers argue that regulating services under "Ma Bell"-era rules is over the top. It will breed "regulatory uncertainty" and will stifle investment and growth in the industry, they say.


Moreover, they assert that the FCC is likely opening itself up to further chastisement from the courts because it is exercising authority beyond that given in the Communications Act. In a statement, Verizon VP Tom Tauke said:

We believe the chairman's stated approach is legally unsupported. The regulatory and judicial proceedings that will ensue can only bring confusion and delay the important work of continuing to build the nation's broadband future.


On the other side, Democratic members of the commission and Internet freedom advocates characterize the regulations as "light touch rules of the road" for the biggest players in the broadband market. As they see it, these rules help more customers have easier access to faster broadband speeds.


Open Internet Coalition Executive Director Markham Erickson points out:

Limited reclassification of the transmission component of broadband access will allow the FCC to clarify its legal authority to ensure consumers are fully protected against blocking or degradation of websites and applications of their choice by broadband providers, and that ubiquitous and affordable high-speed broadband is fully built out across America.

The agency's proposed National Broadband Plan has been presented to Congress, and a vigorous debate is expected before it is adopted as well.

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