Industry Responds to Net Neutrality Decision

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USTelecom President Walter McCormick said, “Two judges on the court have unfortunately failed to recognize the significant legal failings of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to regulate the internet as a public utility, leaving in place regulation we believe will replace a consumer-driven internet with a government-run internet, threatening investment and innovation in years to come. Our industry strongly supports open internet principles and the FCC’s order is wholly unnecessary to keeping the internet open. We will continue to work toward policies that facilitate America’s broadband leadership, are reviewing the court’s decision, and will be evaluating all of our legal options.”

NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said, “NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association has serious concerns about some of the specific ways in which the FCC has sought to expand and apply certain Title II regulations to broadband. At the same time, the association has consistently stressed the need for common-sense rules of the road to govern how various entities interact in the broadband marketplace. In particular, we have noted that a stable, light-touch regulatory framework can prove useful in providing certainty—provided that any rules adopted are properly calibrated and applied. Even as today’s court decision may uphold the commission’s authority to subject broadband to a Title II framework, we urge the commission to avoid regulatory over-reach in the decision’s wake and to focus instead on how best to adapt existing rules in a thoughtful, limited, clear-cut way as necessary specifically to promote certainty and serve core statutory principles such as universal service and consumer protection. Along these lines, NTCA encourages the commission to use this decision as a springboard for a closer look at interconnection arrangements, which the court notes are a telecommunications service. As NTCA has long highlighted, these arrangements are two-way in nature, and reciprocal rules of the road are essential to ensure that all consumers—especially those in rural areas—can obtain and enjoy the full benefits of broadband.”

“We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” said AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel David McAtee.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association released the following statement: “We are reviewing today’s split decision by the DC circuit panel, and will carefully review the majority and dissenting opinions before determining next steps. Though disappointed in today’s result, we are particularly gratified by Judge Williams’ recognition of the ‘watery thin and self-contradictory’ nature of the FCC arguments used to justify the imposition of common carriage laws on Internet networks. While this is unlikely the last step in this decade-long debate over Internet regulation, we urge bipartisan leaders in Congress to renew their efforts to craft meaningful legislation that can end ongoing uncertainty, promote network investment, and protect consumers.”

American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka said, “ACA is disappointed that the D.C. Circuit supported the FCC's decision to regulate the complex, computer-like networks of ISPs as though they are ‘dumb' pipes provided by monopoly telephone companies. ACA continues to believe that the FCC acted contrary to law and decades of precedent in relying on Title II of the Communications Act as the legal basis for its new regulations, whose burdens fall disproportionately upon smaller ISPs. Although ACA needs time to review the Court's ruling to assess the need for further litigation, ACA expects to seek review of the decision. ACA members - which are among the smallest actors in the market -- do not now have and never had the incentive or ability to engage in blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization that could possibly threaten the openness of the Internet. Nonetheless, ACA members were and are willing to be subject to the three ‘bright line' net neutrality rules contained in the order under the FCC's Section 706 authority. However, ACA members have been strongly opposed to being subject to onerous Title II rules to achieve this goal, which would impose unnecessary and significant costs. ACA believes that for the FCC to exercise regulatory authority over the Internet, it requires a clear statutory mandate from Congress that is lacking in this case.”

CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker said, “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. For the U.S. to remain the global mobile leader, we need rules that help promote consumer access to 5G and the Internet of Things without subjecting the wireless industry to investment-chilling public utility regulation. In the interim, we urge the FCC to support innovative new services, like free data, that benefit consumers and reflect the highly competitive mobile market.”

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) CEO Scott Belcher said, “The court’s decision means today’s dynamic, ever-changing Internet will face the strict, inflexible rules designed to regulate our grandparents’ phone service. We continue to believe the FCC has overstepped its authority and we are deeply disappointed by the decision. This decision means we must redouble our efforts to find a policy solution. TIA is committed to working with members of Congress to advance legislation that protects consumers without harming investment and job creation. If the FCC’s current approach is allowed to remain in place, it will be much more difficult for Internet service providers to offer innovative new services enabled by the Internet of Things and 5G or to continue heavily investing in the network and enabling greater connectivity. And significant private sector investment is clearly needed in order to meet growing consumer demands for video and data. The light touch bipartisan regulatory framework of the last decade has worked, allowing the industry to deliver more access, higher speeds and more connectivity. There is no question that an open Internet is essential – but it is best delivered through balanced and broadly supported rules. A free market approach, with clearly defined consumer protections, can ensure an open Internet.”

By upholding the FCC's ability to enforce an open Internet, the court ensures "an environment in which innovation will thrive and the market will pick winners and losers," said Robert Cooper, an antitrust attorney and partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in DC, who submitted comments on the case for Cogent Communications, a large Internet provider that services ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon and content providers such as Netflix. “This is the most consequential court decision of the Internet age," Cooper said. "It confirms the fundamental principle of an Open Internet, and ensures that consumers—not gatekeeper broadband access providers—will be the arbiters of the content they choose to access on the Internet."

Netflix released a statement: “Today’s appeals court decision underscores what’s possible when millions of consumers unite to be heard and government officials listen. By upholding all parts of the FCC’s net neutrality approach, the appeals court settled two decades of debate and legal uncertainty by ensuring the Internet remains open to all. The Court went out of its way to define interconnection as a central part of Net Neutrality, ensuring that providers like Netflix will be able to reach consumers without ISP interference. Now the FCC has clear authority to hold ISPs to these openness rules and turn its attention to policies that support an affordable, faster Internet.”

“The third time was the charm," said Pantelis Michalopoulos, who argued before the court in support of the FCC rules and for intervenors in support of the FCC including Netflix, Dish and Comptel. "The open Internet rules are here to stay. Often in Washington, it is tough to discern who won or lost. That was the case with the Verizon case in 2014: the court said the FCC had the authority to make open Internet rules, but had to go back to the drawing board. This time there is no doubt who is the winner: the open Internet. The gatekeepers may not block or throttle our information. They may not ask information to pay tolls. They may do nothing that unreasonably disadvantages users or content providers. And our iPhone is as safe as our PC: wireless Internet access providers are subject to the rules too.”

"We are pleased that the FCC's open internet order has been upheld," said Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch. "We have long supported the FCC's efforts to protect an open internet, which is essential for driving innovation and empowering consumer choice."

Gary Shapiro, President of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA): "We agree that our nation best thrives with a free, competitive and open internet. But the FCC's rules upheld today do not ensure competition, investment and innovation. The reclassification to Title II imposes new barriers to innovation, such as requesting permission from the government for new services, and thus compromises the internet's potential to create new businesses, connect us across borders and provide anytime/anywhere access."

National Association of Manufacturers' Linda Kelly said the decision "creates uncertainty for manufacturers and is a major disincentive to investment in this essential infrastructure." She said NAM "will continue to fight the FCC’s misguided policy—in the courts and in Congress."


Statement (USTelecom) Statement (NTCA) Statement (AT&T) Statement (NCTA) Statement (ACA) Statement (CTIA) Federal court upholds FCC's net neutrality rules (USA Today) Netflix Applauds Appeals Court Ruling on Net Neutrality (Netflix) Title II Decision Draws Jeers From ISPs, GOP (B&C – jeers)) Net Neutrality Advocates Take Victory Lap (B&C – cheers) Court Support for FCC Net Neutrality Rules Keeps Drawing Crowd (B&C - more reaction)