The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today moved forward, in a 3-2 vote, to consider subjecting broadband Internet services to Title II phone regulations. Attribute the following statement to AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs, Jim Cicconi:
“Today’s decision by the FCC is troubling and, in many respects, unsettling. It will create investment uncertainty at a time when certainty is most needed. It will no doubt damage jobs in a period of far-too-high unemployment. It will also undermine the FCC’s own goals for the National Broadband Plan. A better and more proper approach is for the FCC to defer the question of its legal authority to the US Congress. A clear and bipartisan majority of Congress has urged this, and in his comments today the chairman did acknowledge Congressional action as an option. AT&T continues to feel Congressional action is far preferable, and far less risky to jobs and investment, than the FCC’s current path.
“The FCC has argued that it is not seeking to regulate the Internet. The facts—indeed the very words of the proposal voted on today—tell a different story. The Internet is commonly defined as “a network of networks”, and the FCC proposes to regulate broadband networks virtually end to end under a regulatory structure devised in 1934 for monopoly telephone networks. This is impossible to justify on either a policy or legal basis, and we remain confident that if the FCC persists in its course—and we truly hope it does not—the courts will surely overturn their action. We would also note that, significantly, the FCC’s proposal today fails to articulate any legal theory on which it feels it can proceed with a Title II reclassification.
“The Open Internet is a reality today. It is the stated policy of AT&T and every other major broadband provider to preserve Internet openness. That is the basis on which we have spent billions to build broadband networks, and it is the basis on which we operate them today. Just as we have worked at an industry level to create private sector mechanisms for protecting the Open Internet, we stand ready to work with the FCC on narrow, targeted authority for the FCC to ensure today’s Internet openness is preserved in the future.”