Telecom Industry Promises Net Neutrality Fight is Not Over
Earlier this week a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial Net Neutrality regulations and as expected it has generated a far amount of commentary on both sides of the fight.
On the one hand many proponents of an open Internet see this as a landmark victory in the fight against ISP dominance, finally gaining the regulatory clout needed to put dubious service providers in their place. On the other hand, though, are the service providers themselves, and it should come as no surprise that they’re not taking this most recent decision sitting down, promising more legal action to come.
“We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” said David McAtee, senior EVP and general counsel for AT&T, a similar sentiment echoed by our friendly neighbourhood trade association, the CTIA.
“The wireless industry remains committed to preserving an open Internet and will pursue judicial and congressional options to ensure a regulatory framework that provides certainty for consumers, investors and innovators,” said CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker.
As always, much of the talk out of the telecom industry was about market uncertainty, stifling innovation and the possible detriment to customer satisfaction, none of which I find convincing in the slightest.
“We believe the industry will take its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court,” stated Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst Jennifer Fritzsche, noting the decision was not unexpected. “In terms of next steps, we look for the industry to announce its appeal, and would note the process likely will span into a new administration, which might ultimately change the dynamic of the ruling and [net neutrality] rules. The other unknown is whether Congress will step in and act in light of the court’s ruling. … The decision, if it stands, will also impact the pricing and network management tools available to mobile carriers.”
As expected, some trade groups voiced the ongoing cry that this court decision to uphold Net Neutrality will result in uncertainty in the market.
“The court’s decision means today’s dynamic, ever-changing Internet will face the strict, inflexible rules designed to regulate our grandparents’ phone service,” said Telecommunications Industry Association CEO Scott Belcher. “We continue to believe the FCC has overstepped its authority and we are deeply disappointed by the decision.”
“Today’s decision from the D.C. Circuit creates uncertainty for manufacturers and is a major disincentive to investment in this essential infrastructure,” added Linda Kelly, SVP and general counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers. “The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action and the NAM will continue to fight the FCC’s misguided policy – in the courts and in Congress – to ensure manufacturers’ growing technology infrastructure needs can be met.”
What’s interesting in all this though is that Verizon, once the loudest voice in the fight against Net Neutrality, has decided to take a different course, attempting to curate its own adoption of the FCC’s regulations by dictating its own terms of open Internet action. Not the first time we’ve seen that either, as carriers pay hollow lip service to the regulations as they try to find ways to undermine the rules altogether.