Our Comments to the FCC on Restoring Internet Freedom

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Yesterday, NCTA submitted comments to the FCC in its docket on Restoring Internet Freedom. The comments reaffirm NCTA’s longstanding commitment to core open internet principles that ensure that all consumers can enjoy free and unimpeded access to the lawful internet content of their choosing. Those core principles, which have evolved from the four internet freedoms first articulated by then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell in 2004, ensure transparency, no blocking, no throttling, and no anticompetitive paid prioritization – all of which have been consistently embraced and adhered to by NCTA and its members regardless of the governing regulatory framework.

The comments also reaffirm NCTA’s longstanding view that the best such regulatory approach – and the best way to ensure incentives for continued investment and innovation – is to classify broadband Internet access service as a Title I “information service” under the Communications Act. This was the approach adhered to by a bipartisan set of FCC Chairmen and Commissioners dating back to the Clinton Administration.

Subjecting internet service providers to common carrier regulation under Title II of the Act is entirely unnecessary to ensure that the internet remains open. Moreover, that cumbersome regulatory framework imposes substantial costs—on ISPs, consumers, and society at large—that have nothing to do with open internet principles.

As our comments make clear, these concerns have been borne out since the prior Commission’s ill-conceived decision to reverse longstanding precedent and classify broadband internet access as a common carrier service under Title II. The comments point to numerous studies – including an attached paper by economist Dr. Bruce Owen – that confirm that common carrier, utility-style regulation constitutes a drag on investment and innovation.

Upon submitting these comments, our goals remain the same; to classify of internet access service once again as a Title I information service, to restate our commitment to the principles of an open internet, and to affirm our belief that the most durable and effective way to establish lasting open internet protections is not through Title II regulation, but by new legislation enacted by Congress. A law will ensure a clear, consistent roadmap for an open internet that the entire internet ecosystem can rely on.