Broadband Lobbyists Vow To Preserve 'Open Internet'
Lobbyists for broadband providers insisted on Wednesday that they will continue to follow at least some open Internet principles even if the Federal Communications Commission proceeds with its expected repeal of the net neutrality rules. “An open internet model is much more profitable than a closed model,” cable lobbyist and former FCC Chairman Michael Powell told reporters. “We make a lot of money because the network is open.” Powell, who currently serves as head of NCTA — The Internet & Television Association, said that some net neutrality proponents have “given the public an overexaggerated and catastrophic image” of what will follow the FCC’s “inevitable decision” to scrap the 2015 rules.
He added that consumers’ online experience “will not change in any significant and substantial way” after the repeal. advertisement advertisement The 2015 net neutrality rules reclassified broadband as a utility service and imposed some common carrier regulations, including bans on blocking or throttling content and from creating paid fast lanes.
The rules also contain a “general conduct” standard that broadly prohibits Internet service providers from unreasonably impeding the ability of consumers and content providers to reach each other. Pai has proposed repealing those rules and replacing them with a requirement that broadband companies disclose matters like whether they block or throttle traffic. Internet service providers that fail to honor their statements about traffic management would be subject to prosecution by the Federal Trade Commission, according to Pai’s approach.
Net neutrality advocates oppose Pai’s plan, arguing that broadband providers — which often wield monopoly power — shouldn’t be able to censor traffic any more than telephone companies can decide whether to put through calls. Powell on Wednesday claimed that even if the rules are repealed broadband providers have no incentive to censor or throttle traffic by “engineering scarcity.” Powell added that such a scheme would be “wildly impractical, unsound and unlikely to generate a bigger return than continuing to expand.” Meredith Attwell Baker, who heads the wireless lobbying group CTIA – Everything Wireless, added that the wireless consumer will be “the winner” after the FCC repeals the rules.
Powell also criticized the prior FCC’s decision to classify broadband as a utility — a move that theoretically allows the agency to subject providers to broad regulation.
When he chaired the FCC, the agency classified broadband as an “information” service, but also set out four principles of “Internet Freedom,” which were in some ways an early version of the net neutrality rules.
Those principles included the idea that consumers should be able to access lawful content and apps online.