updated 04:38 pm EDT, Thu May 15, 2014
AT&T, Verizon, Comcast dislike idea of ombudsmen monitoring business
Amidst wide concern about today's US Federal Communications Commission vote on Chairman Tom Wheeler's net neutrality proposal, the three major Internet service providers are apparently not pleased as well. AT&T has penned a missive complaining that the potential regulation of Internet providers as a utility would "place a cloud" over innovation and harm customers. Additionally, Verizon believes that the same utility-like regulation, should the ISPs induce the FCC to enact it, would "jeopardize investment and innovation in broadband."
AT&T goes on to say that "going backwards 80 years to the world of utility regulation would represent a tragic step in the wrong direction. Utility regulation would strangle investment, hobble innovation, and put government regulators in charge of nearly every aspect of Internet-based services."
It also believes that "such an approach would also send an alarming message to the rest of the world -- a message that says the United States believes it is appropriate for governments to place onerous regulations on the Internet" which could potentially cause other governments to "pursue their own goals, whether to suppress 'dangerous' speech or extract economic value from American Internet and content companies."
Verizon claims to have always been on the side of the consumer with net neutrality regulations. Its statement notes that "Verizon has long been committed to an open Internet for a simple reason: our customers demand it. This was true before the FCC ever considered putting rules in place, and serving our customers will ensure our commitment to an open Internet regardless of what the FCC does in the future."
The FiOS provider reminds readers of its $100 billion investment in upgrading US infrastructure, which it says was "encouraged by a bipartisan consensus for light-touch regulation of the Internet that began in the Clinton administration."
Comcast, for its part, mentions that it is still bound by previous Open Internet rules, as a result of its prior merger with NBCUniversal. One one hand, the company "remains confident that the Commission will continue to appropriately balance its strong commitment to consumer protection with the need to allow network operators to manage their networks reasonably."
On the other hand, it also thinks that Title II regulation of ISPs as a telecommunication service, handled from a regulatory standpoint very much like a utility, is a very bad idea, and will dramatically "spark massive instability, create investor and marketplace uncertainty, derail planned investments, slow broadband adoption, and kill jobs in America."
The three telecom providers aren't complaining about the "fast lane" that Chairman Wheeler is suggesting for implementation -- rather the concern that is being voiced is the potential for an independent ombudsman to look into the ISPs should they act against the best interest of the public in all aspects of business, including implementation of the fast lane concept. None of the ISPs complaining today about the ruling are ranked particularly high on customer satisfaction indexes.