Internet Providers Strike Back Against Net Neutrality Activists
Internet service providers struck back at net neutrality proponents yesterday with an open letter of their own, warning the Federal Communications Commission that regulating broadband as a public utility will stifle investments and innovation.
The letter was signed by 28 CEOs including AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, Comcast’s Brian Roberts, Verizon’s Lowell McAdam and Cablevision’s Brian Sweeney and Patrick Esser of Cox Communications who would all like to what regulations are in place rolled back even further.
“Such an action would greatly distort the future development of, and investment in, tomorrow’s broadband networks and services,” the letter reads. “New service offerings, options, and features would be delayed or altogether foregone.
The executives argue that consumers would be given less choice and a less adaptive Internet. "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 U.S. Internet of tomorrow.”
The letter is a response to an open letter published earlier this week, in which nearly every major tech company in America blasted the FCC’s alleged proposal for new rules governing the internet.
The proposal is said to have recommended rules that would have allowed ISPs to charge content providers a premium to deliver their content more quickly and reliably.
Net neutrality advocates—including Netflix, Google, Amazon, Facebook and more than 120 others—say the rule change will stifle innovation, putting independent startups at a disadvantage to wealthier content distributors who can afford to put their traffic in the fast lane. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has since revised that proposal with assurances that the new rules will not allow ISPs to split service into fast and slow lanes.
Now the ISPs’ biggest fear is being brought under Title 2 of the Communications Act and regulated as telecommunications services which they say “would impose great costs, allowing unprecedented government micromanagement of all aspects of the Internet economy.”
Net neutrality proponents say regulating broadband lines Under Title 2 would give the FCC the authority to prevent ISPs from blocking content or its competitors' services.
The proposal, which has still not been made public, is expected to be voted upon by the commissioners tomorrow. It is expected to be made public on Friday.
Benjamin Kabin is a Brooklyn-based technology journalist who specializes in security, startups, venture capital and social media.