ISPs Threaten to Stop Building Infrastructure if New Net Neutrality Proposal Passes

The top Internet service providers in the United States have told the Federal Communications Commission that if new revisions to the Open Internet Order are passed by the FCC commissioners on Thursday, they will stop building out infrastructure and give up on innovation.

The threat came on Tuesday in a letter (PDF) signed by the chief executives of AT&T, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable, 15 other companies, and industry trade groups such as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the CTIA Wireless Association.

The collective of ISP CEOs warned the FCC not to classify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open Internet service up to stricter “common carrier” rules under Title II of the Communications Act.

Meanwhile, consumer and free speech advocates say common carrier status is required so that the FCC can impose stronger network neutrality rules on Internet service providers.

“Today’s regulatory framework helps support nearly 11 million jobs annually in the US and has unleashed over $1.2 trillion of investment in advanced wired and wireless broadband networks, as well as an entirely new apps economy,” the letter said. “We see an average of over $60 billion poured into cable, fiber, fixed and mobile wireless, phone, and satellite broadband networks each and every year. And broadband gets better every year: the average broadband speeds jumped 25 percent in 2013 alone, highlighting there are no 'slow lanes' in today’s Internet.”

The ISPs claim that "even the potential threat" of new common carrier rules resulted in a 10 percent market cap decrease for some ISPs the last two times the FCC considered Title II in 2009 and 2010.

“Today, Title II backers fail to explain where the next hundreds of billions of dollars of risk capital will come from to improve and expand today’s networks under a Title II regime,” the ISPs wrote. “They too soon forget that a decade ago we saw billions newly invested in the latest broadband networks and advancements once the Commission affirmed that Title II does not apply to broadband networks.”

“Under Title II, new service offerings, options, and features would be delayed or altogether foregone. Consumers would face less choice, and a less adaptive and responsive Internet,” they wrote. “An era of differentiation, innovation, and experimentation would be replaced with a series of ‘Government may I?’ requests from American entrepreneurs. That cannot be, and must not become, the US Internet of tomorrow.”

We will have more on this story as it develops.

Source: Ars Technica

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