Reactions to the FCC’s net neutrality ruling came fast and furious after it was announced last week that broadband would be saddled with Title II status. In some ways, this is another example of a country that is politically and policy divided. Here is a sample of reactions from several industry contestants.
Chip Pickering, CEO of COMPTEL:
“The Commission’s historic decision today to promote and protect an open Internet is vital to consumers and companies of all sizes – particularly small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs – that depend on the Internet to communicate, conduct business and serve their customers. Today’s action is a defeat for those companies that want to exert gatekeeper control over the Internet and a clear victory for individual choice, free expression, competition and the Internet-driven free market economy.
COMPTEL commends the Commission for ensuring an open Internet by prohibiting blocking, throttling, paid prioritization and unreasonable discrimination that would prohibit consumers from obtaining the online content, applications and services of their choice. Our broad membership – which includes top Internet companies, over-the-top providers, Internet backbone operators, wireless and enterprise service providers – praise the Commission for its strong action and clear commitment to the innovation, investment and pro-growth policy for an open Internet.
We are pleased that the Commission followed the evidence in the record and determined that ISPs have threatened and can continue to threaten the open Internet at the interconnection points they control. By providing a complaint process, the Commission can now ensure that interconnection is not used to evade the open Internet protections, and it will be able to address cases of abuse that are harming or threaten to harm ISPs’ customers and the virtuous circle of innovation and investment.
The Commission’s decision to use legally sustainable authority, with the forbearance flexibility of the 1996 Act, is a sound and wise approach. We fully expect this light-touch policy framework will continue to promote investment in the entire Internet ecosystem. The Chairman, Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel and their staffs, as well as the FCC staff who worked diligently to complete this proceeding in less than one year, should be proud that they have placed consumers in the best position to access a truly open Internet.”
Ryan Radia, director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
“Today, the FCC voted on party lines to reverse its successful policy of keeping the government’s hands off the Internet. Thanks to three unelected bureaucrats, Internet providers will now be governed by an 81-year old law written for the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. Although big broadband businesses dislike the FCC’s decision, they aren’t the ones who will suffer the most. Instead, the innovators who will build tomorrow’s networks—and the American consumers who will benefit from them—are the real losers today. Any company, big or small, that wants to offer Internet access to Americans’ homes or smartphones must now navigate through the arcana of a federal regulatory agency—the three words an entrepreneur last wants to hear.
This vote also makes a mockery of the notion that the FCC is an “expert” agency that carefully examines the facts and makes decisions based on hard evidence. What in the world has changed that merits the rush to regulate Internet companies? As FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tells it, a few “gatekeepers” control the Internet—but in reality, Americans enjoy plenty of competition and choice when it comes to speedy Internet services. Yet the FCC denies this reality, pulling facts and figures out of thin air to justify its decision to regulate the Internet.
Most Internet users can see through this charade. Hopefully, so will federal courts.”
Charter Communications official statement:
“Charter supports net neutrality because our subscribers expect nothing less than a free and open Internet. This means that Charter does not block, slow down or prioritize Internet traffic. However, the rules adopted today will add fees to customer bills, create regulatory uncertainty and lead to years of litigation that, together, will slow the progress and development of faster broadband for our subscribers. Rather than operate within this outdated and overly broad regulatory regime, Charter looks forward to working with Congress to pass a new open Internet law that protects consumers, provides certainty for investors and freedom for innovators.”
Rich Karpinski, 451 Research Principal Analyst:
“After its last attempt at Net neutrality rules were struck down by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a year ago, the FCC was forced to find more secure legal footing. Placing the broadband, and in particular mobile, network industries under the same legal framework as the telephone monopolies of a century ago may well give it that authority. But it’s also an over-reach, and risky in two ways – one, potentially throttling operator investment and innovation if the rules are applied with too heavy a hand; and two, virtually guaranteeing legal challenges that could drag a now decades-long debate out even further.
For mobile operators, the public response will be almost uniformly bombastic – for political reasons if nothing else. There’s much to lose here and the legal and perhaps ultimately legislative fight is just starting. For day-to-day operator strategy, product development and network planning executives, the continued uncertainty makes the path forward less clear. However, no operator can afford to slow network investment or halt service innovation in today’s cut-throat market in response to what in all likelihood will be end up being a continued regulatory/legal stalemate. Our advice: Continue to function – as mobile operators do in almost all cases today – under the core Net neutrality principle of treating all apps, content and services fairly and equally (especially from a commercial perspective, and excluding, as the FCC allows, ‘reasonable network management’ practices). There will be some cases, such as considering the launch of a new zero-rated service, that the current ambiguity will make a very tough call. Deal with it and place your bets. But more importantly, don’t allow today’s uncertainty to slow down tomorrow’s innovation. Operators that do that will regret it in the end.”
Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA-The Wireless Association President and CEO:
“The FCC’s Net Neutrality decision was disappointing and unnecessary: consumers across the U.S. have – and will always have – access to an open mobile Internet. By ignoring the fundamental differences in wireless networks and disregarding the intense competition throughout the mobile ecosystem, the FCC abandoned a long-standing policy framework responsible for fostering America’s world-leading wireless industry.?The FCC’s claim that the mobile voice experience supports the FCC’s efforts distorts history and the law, turning?a deregulatory statute in 1993 on its head. Title II needlessly puts at risk our nation’s 5G future and the promise of a more connected life.
“The agency’s action runs counter to an express Congressional directive prohibiting the agency from treating mobile broadband like a utility service, making today’s decision not only unwise, but unlawful. The economic and legal uncertainty that will inevitably follow from the FCC’s unilateral action underscores the importance of, and urgent need for, bipartisan Congressional action that can end the net neutrality debate and allow our country’s mobile ecosystem to focus on what it does best – innovating, investing and empowering Americans’ mobile connected lives.”
Chuck Hogg, President of WISPA:
“WISPA remains concerned that Title II regulations will impose substantial compliance and enforcement risks on small ISPs, both at the federal and state levels. However, we are pleased that the FCC heard the call of small broadband providers and adopted a temporary exemption from new disclosure obligations.”
The Association feels that the FCC does not recognize the negative effect that this ruling will have on the residents and businesses in rural America. Adopting regulations that can later be implemented will cause undue financial and regulatory burdens resulting in years of debate. This will put investment into the innovation for rural expansion in jeopardy. Increasing reporting obligations causes new fees, new overhead, and the end result could lead to higher costs to the consumer.
Alex Phillips, Vice President and FCC Committee Chairman of WISPA:
“WISPA is disappointed that the FCC has preempted state laws to allow municipalities to deploy broadband networks where incentives to promote private investment would be more effective. Taxpayers in other communities should not assume the risk of failure unless all efforts to bring in private investment, through state and federal initiatives, have been exhausted.”
Matthew Starr, director, public advocacy, TechAmerica, public sector and public advocacy department of CompTIA:
“For over a year now, we have been advocating for strong open Internet rules to protect businesses operating online, and we applaud the FCC for putting such rules in place. However, we have some concerns about the path the FCC has taken to reach these new rules. Regulatory certainty is key to investment in the communications and information technology industry, and these rules do not provide the certainty we had hoped for. The fate of these rules is likely to be decided by a panel of judges 3 or 4 years from now. We thus will continue to pursue a bipartisan legislative solution to an open Internet that will clarify the FCC’s authority to regulate in this space.”
Jim Lakely, Director of Communications, The Heartland Institute:
“Title II reclassification of the Internet is at its core a naked power grab by the Federal Communications Commission that feared its own irrelevance and was grasping at any means to maintain its power.
“The Internet is not broken, it is a vibrant, continually growing market that has thrived due to the lack of regulations that Title II will now infest upon it.
“Title II regulations are archaic throwbacks which are ill-suited to today’s dynamic Internet and broadband markets. The FCC’s attempts to ‘fix’ the Internet, in the name of net neutrality, will only serve to suppress broadband development. When Internet service providers are barred from properly managing the networks they spent billions of dollars to develop, the profit incentive to build new networks is lost and consumers lose.
“Take a close look at your landline and cell phone bills, laden with taxes and fees. Your Internet bill is next.”
And finally, Verizon, one of the strongest opponents to the network neutrality rules, put out a release as if written on a 1930’s typewriter: