Verizon Warns FCC About Reclassifying Broadband Providers as ‘Common Carriers’

In a new filing with the FCC, Verizon claims that if broadband providers are classified as common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act, they will be forced to charge web services and web sites. It is quite a claim, and one that has been debunked by experts, but that isn't stopping Verizon from pushing the issue.

ISPs, Verizon among them, have been asking the FCC to avoid reclassifying broadband as a "telecommunications service," a move that would subject them to common carrier rules under Title II of the Communications Act. Verizon argues that it would be subject to "all of the rules" of a common carrier, but experts say that the FCC can apply whatever rules it wants, while avoiding other rules that might cause problems for web services.

Here's what Verizon says in its filing:

While reclassification would pose considerable risks of disrupting the sustained momentum that has made the Internet more robust and useful to consumers, it would not even achieve the main results desired by its proponents: namely, banning two-sided arrangements or any arrangements that would result in some bits being handled differently than others. By the terms of the Communications Act, a “telecommunications service” is an offering of “telecommunications for a fee directly to the public.” Thus, by reclassifying the service that broadband providers afford edge providers as a separate “telecommunications service,” the Commission would require that broadband providers charge edge providers for that service. In fact, two-sided arrangements have existed for decades under Title II, as both customers and long distance providers have contributed to the cost of providing local telephone service. Far from preventing two-sided arrangements, reclassification would mandate them.

Public Knowledge Senior Staff Attorney John Bergmayer tells Ars Technica that there are problems with the argument Verizon is making in its filing:

"Reclassification doesn't necessarily say that 'the service that broadband providers afford edge providers' is a Title II service," he said. "The simple version says that the service they offer to consumers is telecommunications and that to offer telecommunications in a nondiscriminatory way, certain things follow (for example, no paid prioritization). If they violate a paid prioritization rule, an ISP would be violating its obligations to consumers not to edge providers."

The FCC is taking initial comments on its net neutrality plan until Friday, and then the agency will take reply comments until September 10.

Ars Technica has a whole lot more on Verizon's arguments here.

Source: Ars Technica

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone

Comments are closed.