Yesterday the FCC finally gave us the details on its big move to enforce network neutrality by selectively applying Title II. The 400 page order was more about rationale and objections than actual rules (just 87 of them). And of course it was immediately followed by a variety of opinions, most of which were surely written in advance. Here’s a quick selection, accompanied by my translation of the lawyer-speak into English:
AT&T SEVP Jim Cicconi: “Unfortunately, the order released today begins a period of uncertainty that will damage broadband investment in the United States. Ultimately, though, we are confident the issue will be resolved by bipartisan action by Congress or a future FCC, or by the courts.”
Translation: See you in court, Wheeler.
Level 3 SVP Michael Mooney: “Level 3 has consistently said it is more interested in the substance of the Open Internet rules—ensuring that the rules protect a free and open Internet without loopholes—than the mechanics of implementing them. Whether the Open Internet is protected through a law written in 1890, 1934 or 2015 does not matter. What matters is that the law protects the free and open Internet. We commend the FCC for its actions to advance the evolution of the Internet and toward protecting American consumers.”
Translation: We actually won a round! Please don’t screw it up now.
Cogent Communications: [The FCC] did not regulate the Internet; it prohibited abusive practices of mass market ISPs. The Commission wisely chose to use its regulatory power only where needed to correct abuse – in the last mile connection to consumers and interconnection among networks – and refrained from the application of burdensome rules from the telephone era.
Translation: Hey guys, about those overflowing peering connections…
TIA CEO Scott Belcher: The FCC order confirms that Title II is a Trojan horse that will open the door to heavy government control of the Internet and create marketplace uncertainty. With Title II in place, there is little to stop future commissioners from instituting government price controls or other market-distorting regulations. The FCC’s promise of a light-touch approach is just that – a promise. There is too much at stake to allow the future of the Internet to rest upon a simple promise.
Translation: The end of the world is nigh!
Dr. Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute: From the economic perspective, it’s distressing that the Commission has decided to impose this many new regulations on a technologically dynamic and innovative sector that has been propelling growth. …We all believe that having an open internet is important, but the FCC has picked the wrong approach. We urge Congress to pass a set of open internet rules that don’t take us back in time.
Translation: [loudly] Congress save us! [subvocalized] Rot in hell, John Oliver…
Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood: These rules are an all-too-rare example of Washington actually working for the people — responding to a massive public outcry to protect Internet users and keep powerful corporations in check. Title II is the correct, common-sense path to providing real Net Neutrality protections under the law.
Translation: Did we just win? Someone pinch me…
Google, Apple, Netflix, etc: [Silence]
Translation: Maybe if we don’t talk, nobody will notice we are now in charge.
And my reaction? Only time will tell who is right. My only question is how long it will take to land in court — hours, days, or weeks?
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