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Big companies like UPS and Visa are quietly pushing for net neutrality

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Ford and Bank of America also sent their lawyers down to DC

The Ad Hoc Telecommunications Users Committee is about as vague of a name as you can imagine for a trade group. But the organization actually represents many of the biggest Fortune 500 companies in the US, and according to a report from Bloomberg, it has been petitioning the FCC on the topic of "Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet." In an ex-parte notice filed with the FCC, Ad Hoc joined President Obama in calling for the use of Title II, arguing that the current system for providing residential internet service is a "terminating access monopoly" without meaningful competition.

Terminating access monopolies

Lawyers from Ford, Visa, UPS, and Bank of America all attended the Ad Hoc meeting with the FCC, although none of those companies would openly discuss support of Title II. In fact Ford, when asked by Bloomberg, outright denied that it was advocating for Title II. The documents submitted by Ad Hoc, however, are clear. And in fact Ad Hoc has long been advocating an end to the lack of competition in the residential ISP market, filing alongside the FCC as far back as 2009.

ad hoc

Turning private pipes back into public utilities

There doesn't have to be a conflict with Ad Hoc pushing for Title II while its members deny that they are. That's the whole point of trade groups like this, to provide cover for corporations that don't want to push a certain agenda themselves. These companies have to do business with the major ISPs every day, and the reform they are asking for from the FCC is actually more aggressive than what President Obama called for. While Obama called for internet service to be classified as a utility, he stopped short of calling for an end to the last-mile monopolies most ISPs enjoy.

Ad Hoc's position is closer to what happened in the UK, where the backbone infrastructure was made a heavily regulated utility and everyone was allowed to compete by offering internet service over those wires. It's highly doubtful we'll actually see that happen in the US, but there is a decent case for it. Verizon, for example, argued in its own filings that the fiber it was laying to offer high speed internet was in fact a Title II common carrier, at least when doing so earned it tax payer subsidies and construction rights. When it was facing the FCC in court, Verizon saw things a bit differently.

ad hoc statement