Wireless, Cable Industries Show Their Love Of An 'Open Internet' By Suing To Overturn Net Neutrality Rules

from the love-is-a-battlefield dept

Now that the FCC’s net neutrality rules have been published in the Federal Register, the broadband industry has fired its litigation cannons and filed the expected lawsuits via all of the major trade organizations (see suits for the NCTA, ACA and CTIA, pdfs). All of the suits proclaim that the FCC’s new net neutrality rules, and its reclassification of broadband providers as common carriers under Title II are an “arbitrary and capricious” implementation of “outdated utility style regulations” that will harm the greater Internet, sector innovation and industry investment (claims even the industry itself has admitted are bunk, yet never seem to go away).

The industry’s statements defending the suits are a who’s who of revolving door regulators. In a statement posted to the NCTA website, former FCC chief turned top cable lobbyist Michael Powell insists that the cable industry’s lawsuit to destroy net neutrality rules isn’t actually about net neutrality. It’s about the cable industry loving the open Internet and rule of law so much, it’s stepping in and doing the right thing so that a Congress awash in Comcast campaign finance cash can do its job:

“This appeal is not about net neutrality but the FCC?s unnecessary action to apply outdated utility style regulation to the most innovative network in our history,? said Michael Powell, NCTA President & CEO. ?The FCC went far beyond the public?s call for sound net neutrality rules. Instead, it took the opportunity to engineer for itself a central role in regulating and directing the evolution of the Internet. We regrettably file this appeal and urge Congress to assert its role in setting national policy, by enacting legislation that fully protects the open Internet, without the harmful impact of public utility regulation.”

In a similarly noble CTIA statement, the wireless industry trots out all the old familiar bogeymen, including claims that Title II will crush sector investment, harm innovation, drive up prices for consumers, and generally wreak havoc on the Internet ecosystem:

“Detailing the infirmities of the FCC’s Order, Smith added: “Instead of letting consumers decide the success of new, innovative mobile services, government bureaucrats will now play that role. National, regional and rural wireless carriers will spend substantial time and resources trying to comply with the new vague and overbroad rules. CTIA’s member companies should be focused on meeting consumers’ growing demand for mobile data and creating new offerings.”

That’s particularly interesting, since CTIA member Sprint has come out in full-throated support of Title II and the agency’s new net neutrality rules, all but calling their fellow CTIA members liars for drumming up innovation and investment fears. Similarly T-Mobile has proclaimed that it doesn’t see the rules having a serious impact on its business one way or another, since the FCC appears eager to provide notable leeway toward controversial policies like zero rating. That’s two of the CTIA’s four biggest members basically telling the organization it’s full of hot air.

Unlike the USTelecom lawsuit, the CTIA is taking specific aim at the inclusion of wireless services, long arguing that the wireless industry is so unique, dynamic and competitive, there’s simply no need for consumer protections. That’s again the gist of the argument put forward by CTIA boss Merideth Atwell Baker, who was an FCC Commissioner and a Comcast lobbyist before her stint as head of the CTIA. Baker proclaims the suit is being filed because wireless carriers just love the open Internet, and it had “no choice” but to spread this love throughout the U.S. court system like so much delicious peanut butter:

“CTIA and the wireless industry have always supported an open Internet, which is why these rules will only chill investment and innovation and increase costs for consumers. The FCC ignored that the competitive, constantly innovating mobile broadband industry provides Americans with faster networks and a wide variety of devices and service plans. Instead of promoting greater industry investment in the connected world of tomorrow, the FCC opted to resuscitate a command-and-control regulatory regime…CTIA had no choice but to seek judicial review to preserve the regulatory approach that has been instrumental in helping the U.S. become the global leader in 4G services. We are confident that the courts will reject the FCC’s overreach for the third time, particularly with respect to mobile broadband services.”

There’s layers of irony here. One being that the FCC’s 2010 rules originally didn’t include wireless, and for that reason were generally liked by AT&T and Comcast. But CTIA member Verizon sued to overturn the rules anyway in the hopes of crippling the FCC’s authority permanently. That didn’t work, and Verizon’s (and by proxy the CTIA’s) behavior directly lead to the FCC shifting toward a more legally supportable Title II model.

As for loving the “open Internet,” that’s relatively funny for an industry whose members have lied about throttling unlimited users, blocked video services to force users to more expensive service plans, blocked competing mobile payment services in the hopes of giving their own a leg up, worked tirelessly to ensure devices remain locked and often unrootable, and fought a laundry list of technological innovations ranging from Bluetooth to tethering because they threatened their market power. If that’s what loving the open Internet looks like, I wouldn’t want to see the wireless and cable industries’ version of hatred.

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Companies: aca, ctia, ncta

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Comments on “Wireless, Cable Industries Show Their Love Of An 'Open Internet' By Suing To Overturn Net Neutrality Rules”

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John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's still 4G? To whom?

4G refers to specific technical standards — standards that US carriers couldn’t or weren’t willing to meet. So instead, they put a lot of pressure on the ITU-R to degrade the standard itself so that US carriers would qualify.

Carriers who aren’t calling their services 4G are probably not offering services that comply with the 4G standard, so they need to call it something else.

Karl Bode (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's still 4G? To whom?

Yep. They lobbied the ITU to effectively change the definition of 4G to technically mean anything short of cans and string. I believe they can even argue 2G speed connections around 256 kbps are “4G.” It’s kind of meaningless, as was the White House’s proclamation that it helped drive 4G networks to 98% of the public.

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