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T-Mobile has no 'deep concern' about the FCC's net neutrality plan

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T-Mobile isn't buying into dire warnings about net neutrality. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, company COO Mike Sievert said that FCC chair Tom Wheeler's plan to reclassify broadband under stricter Title II regulation wouldn't pose a significant threat. "There is nothing in there that gives us deep concern about our ability to continue executing our strategy," said Sievert, though the Journal also said he believed reclassification was not "the most desirable approach."

This puts T-Mobile's position near that of Sprint, which said last week that Wheeler's proposal could actually help its customers, and was unlikely to stop investment in telecommunications companies. It certainly places it far from AT&T — which said reclassification would lead to industry lawsuits — and Verizon, which castigated Wheeler's plan earlier this month. But it's hardly an endorsement of Wheeler's plan.

T-Mobile's outspoken CEO, John Legere, said last year that he opposed Title II reclassification, supporting "lighter" regulation under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act. "Like it or not, regulation can stifle innovation," he wrote on Twitter. Sievert isn't directly contradicting that, but he is saying that Legere's fears about regulation might not add up to much. Then again, telecoms need to strike a delicate balancing act: they've got to predict enough harm to turn regulators against Title II, but not enough to actually scare off investors.

The FCC will vote on Wheeler's proposal next week, at a February 26th meeting. With two other commissioners usually on Wheeler's side, it's expected to pass, which will trigger a public comment period (and probably several lawsuits.) The FCC will also be up against Congress Republicans, who have introduced a bill that would codify some net neutrality principles but reduce the FCC's role in maintaining them. T-Mobile hasn't really sided with Title II net neutrality, but at least it isn't siding strongly against it.