Free Press Rebuttal to the Telecommunications Industry’s Predictable Response to the FCC’s Announcement of Jurisdictional Intent

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Josh Stearns, 413-585-1533 x204

Free Press Rebuttal to the Telecommunications Industry’s Predictable Response to the FCC’s Announcement of Jurisdictional Intent

WASHINGTON - The
telecommunications giants released predictable reactions to the FCC’s
measured announcement about its intent to consider broadband as a
telecommunications service on Thursday. Below are Free Press’s
responses to statements from the big phone and cable companies.

Responding to AT&T’s reaction, Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said:

“AT&T continues its campaign of spreading fear, uncertainty and
doubt about policies needed to keep companies like it from harming
consumers.

"AT&T is wrong on the facts. Contrary to what AT&T says, the
FCC is not proposing to regulate the Internet and in fact has
specifically disavowed the possibility. The `Internet’ is not the wires
that deliver the content and applications, but the content itself.  The
FCC is not proposing to regulate CNN.com or hulu.com;
it is merely placing light-touch rules of the road on the few powerful
incumbents that control the duopoly broadband access market.  AT&T
ignores a central distinction running through decades of FCC history -
the distinction between transmission and information.

“AT&T shows repeated confusion as to the scope of FCC proposals. 
Just as in its open Internet filings - where AT&T seemed unable to
perceive the difference between DSL networks and search engines -
AT&T here seems unable to tell the difference between the last mile
and the backbone.  The FCC's general counsel made clear that the
proposal applies only to service that is offered directly to the
public, and the last time we checked, the public was not offered
backbone Internet connections.

"AT&T also is wrong to portray our Communications Act as one meant
for a 1934-era `monopoly voice network,’ as they know perfectly well
that Congress modernized the law in 1996, paving the way for the era of
convergence and competition.

"Finally, it is simply disingenuous for AT&T to say that they
support Internet openness, and were the first to embrace open Internet
principles.  The truth is, the company has spent millions fighting Net
Neutrality, and only begrudgingly agreed to follow the principle of
non-discrimination in order to gain approval of its massive
consolidation with Bell South. We hope going forward AT&T will drop
its irrational opposition to sensible pro-consumer policies and work
constructively with the FCC to make our broadband markets work for
consumers, not just shareholders."

In response to Verizon’s statement about the FCC’s announcement on broadband reclassification

S. Derek Turner, Free Press Research Director said,

“Verizon's reaction to the FCC's very moderate plan to put its
regulatory framework back in harmony with the law is the expected
industry overreaction.  The FCC should put little stock into what
Verizon has to say about actions that will "harm consumers," while
Verizon itself harms consumers by dumping millions of its rural
customers on Frontier in a debt-laden deal destined for bankruptcy.

"Verizon is also wrong on the history of the law and congressional
intent.  Congress did not intend for the FCC to regulate Internet
content and applications, but clearly envisioned basic rules of the
road for the companies that sell access to this content.  It’s clear
that the FCC's move is perfectly consistent with Congress' vision, and
repairs the harm done by the Bush-era FCC’s blind deregulation.”

"And as the FCC's general counsel noted Thursday, Tom Tauke himself
told Congress in 2001 that the `light Title II’ approach produced what
is arguably one of the greatest successes in this industry in the last
twenty years: the growth of wireless services — and it `will work’ for
wireline broadband as well.  We're inclined to think Mr. Tauke was
right then and wrong now."

In response to Comcast’s statement about Thursday’s FCC announcement on reclassification of broadband

M. Chris Riley, Free Press Policy Counsel said,

"It's ironic that Comcast believes the Commission continues to have the
authority to preserve the open Internet under a Title I approach, as it
is Comcast's own legal challenge to that authority that left the FCC in
the position it is in.  We're not sure what sort of 'regulatory cloud'
Comcast fears, particularly when substantial research has demonstrated
that open Internet rules are pro-investment and pro-innovation; nor
would we agree with Comcast's characterization of the balanced
Congressional framework of Title II as "extreme".  But, overall,
Comcast's measured response reinforces arguments that the proposed
action is a non-controversial preservation of the status quo, contrary
to the comments of "Chicken Little" organizations who will assert that
the regulatory sky is falling no matter what the FCC attempts to do."

Free Press response to the National Cable Telecommunications Association’s reaction to Thursday’s announcement from the FCC.

Free Press Policy Counsel M. Chris Riley said:

"We trust that the NCTA will be reassured by the FCC's repeated
assertions that they have absolutely no plans to regulate the
Internet.  Being the expert agency for communications, the FCC
recognizes that broadband communications services are not "the
Internet", contrary to NCTA's deliberately misleading statements. 
Furthermore, the FCC has demonstrated in its national broadband plan
that the broadband marketplace is not competitive, and that much work
must be done to ensure open, affordable, and universal broadband access
- work that would prove impossible under a Title I framework."

AT&T http://attpublicpolicy.com/government-policy/att-response-to-fcc-chairman’s-‘a-third-way’-broadband-announcement/

Verizon http://investor.verizon.com/news/view.aspx?NewsID=1052

Comcast http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2010/05/06/comcast-disappointed-with-fcc-move-to-reclassify-broadband/

NCTA http://www.ncta.com/ReleaseType/Statement/McSlarrow-Statement-Regarding-FCC-Chairman-Genachowskis-Third-Way-Broadband-Framework.aspx

 

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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