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ISPs, wireless carriers, and Washington insiders react to FCC's net neutrality proposal

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With FCC chairman Tom Wheeler now firmly planted behind the idea of classifying internet providers under Title II, we're expecting a massive reaction to his new plan for preserving net neutrality. ISPs have been arguing against the Title II approach for months, warning it could risk jobs and stifle investment (and innovation) in broadband. But the chorus of those supporting Wheeler and an open, fair-to-all internet has been much more vocal — and only grown louder in recent days.

In pursing Wheeler's outlined path, the FCC is setting itself up for major legal tangles with mega-corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Those companies will no doubt deliver strongly worded responses to the FCC's plan. But the commission will also receive plenty of praise for standing in the corner of net neutrality advocates. Gathered here are the responses to the FCC's new framework for net neutrality; we'll be updating the article as more come in.

Where visible, emphasis added by The Verge.

In support of Title II

Netflix

The FCC is poised to take decisive action that will ensure consumers get the Internet access they pay for without ISPs restricting, influencing or meddling with their choices. We support the commission asserting jurisdiction over interconnection and implementing a case-by-case process that prevents ISPs from charging unfair and unreasonable tolls. If such an oversight process had been in place last year, we certainly would've used it when a handful of ISPs opted to hold our members hostage until we paid up.

Twitter

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Internet Association

Internet companies are pleased to hear that Chairman Wheeler intends to enact strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable net neutrality rules that include bright-line rules that ban paid prioritization, blocking, and discrimination online.  The details and implementation of the proposal matter, and we look forward to seeing the text of the order to ensure that a free and open Internet is fully protected.  The Internet Association remains results oriented, and it is essential that the end result protect the user experience as a first priority.

We thank Chairman Wheeler for including equal treatment of wireless and fixed broadband connections in his proposal.  There is only one Internet, and users expect that they be able to access an uncensored Internet regardless of how they connect. It is also important that broadband gatekeepers not use interconnection as a chokepoint to thwart net neutrality protections by degrading consumer access and harming online services.

Free Press

Chairman Wheeler’s announcement today is the culmination of a decade of dedicated grassroots organizing and advocacy. We’re now one step closer to restoring real public interest protections to our nation’s communications policies. If the full FCC adopts the chairman’s proposal, and it’s free of any last-minute surprises, then everyone’s right to communicate freely online will be secured. We commend Chairman Wheeler’s actions and his willingness to listen to the facts in the face of a fiercely dishonest industry lobbying effort.

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There’s no doubt that the cable and telecom monopolies and their hired guns will ramp up their lies in an attempt to thwart the FCC’s common-sense action. The FCC should ignore industry’s cynical efforts. The agency is not only doing what the law requires, but what the people need. Restoration of Title II is the only way to preserve Net Neutrality and protect everyone’s rights to access affordable, competitive and secure communications networks.

Center for Democracy and Technology

The open Internet that has served as a true equalizer was strengthened today with the FCC’s proposed rules. By clearly banning discrimination, whether through paid prioritization, throttling, or blocking, the FCC has protected the foundation of the democratic Internet. This is an important day for everyone who enjoys the benefits of a fair and open Internet.

The FCC’s Title II approach creates the stable and enforceable legal authority necessary to preserving an open Internet. Details on how the FCC will protect the interests of consumers, including privacy, are still necessary. However, the proposed rules show that the Commission clearly listened to the American people and delivered very strong open Internet rules.

Common Cause

The Internet is the Town Hall of the 21st century; if we want our democracy to flourish, we must see that it remains open to everyone. That’s why today’s signal that the FCC will reclassify Internet service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act is so important.

Demand Progress

We applaud Chairmen Wheeler’s historic decision to protect an open Internet by reclassifying broadband as a Title II communications service. The FCC is closer than ever to instituting real net neutrality protections that will keep the Web open for generations to come. From the Internet Slowdown day of action last fall to everyday users exercising their right to freedom of expression, millions of people have called on the FCC and Congress to put the public need for an open Internet before the demands of Comcast, AT&T and Verizon."

We look forward to seeing the exact details of the FCC’s rules. All indications point to this announcement as reassuring for the future of the Internet, free speech and American innovation, because Title II is the simplest, most legally sound way to preserve net neutrality.

We urge Congress not to interfere with the FCC’s authority to protect an open Internet and to heed the thousands of calls from their constituents demanding an end to any ploys to satisfy big cable monopolies.

Engine Advocacy

Today’s announcement from Chairman Wheeler represents a tremendous victory for the Internet and startup communities in the debate over net neutrality. Just one year ago, nobody imagined the FCC would reclassify broadband under Title II. And then the community mobilized. Engine was proud to work with hundreds of startups and other partners in urging the FCC use all available policy tools—including Title II—to protect the open Internet. Many of those startups spent the past year meeting with policy makers and making a public case for strong protections. The impact they had on the FCC’s rulemaking shows how powerful the technology community’s voice--particularly that of startups--has become in Washington.

While reclassification is a big win for startups, it’s only part of the equation. The FCC must now ensure that the rules it creates under Title II authority are strong enough to prevent ISPs from discriminating against startups and flexible enough to allow the FCC to preempt future threats to the open Internet. We at Engine look forward to being part of that process and making sure the voice of the startup community continues to be heard in Washington.

Against Title II

Verizon

Heavily regulating the Internet for the first time is unnecessary and counterproductive. It is unnecessary because all participants in the Internet ecosystem support an open Internet, and the FCC can address any harmful behavior without taking this radical step. Moreover, Congress is working on legislation that would codify open Internet rules once and for all. It is counterproductive because heavy regulation of the Internet will create uncertainty and chill investment among the many players — not just Internet service providers — that now will need to consider FCC rules before launching new services.

AT&T

We continue to believe that a middle ground exists that will allow us to safeguard the open Internet without risk to needed investment and years of legal uncertainty. We were able to find such a path in 2010, and will do our very best to seek such a path today. We also hope that proponents of Title II will consider that any FCC action taken on a partisan vote can be undone by a future commission in similar fashion, or may be declared invalid by the courts. The best way to ensure that open Internet protections, investment and innovation endure is for people of good faith to come together on a bipartisan basis for that purpose. We believe such an opportunity exists today.

CTIA

We are concerned that the FCC’s proposed approach could jeopardize our world leading mobile broadband market and result in significant uncertainty for years to come because the FCC lacks congressional authority to impose Title II public utility regulation on mobile broadband services. The mobile innovation and investment – $120 billion since 2010 alone – that American consumers rely on will be placed at risk by the FCC applying intrusive regulatory restrictions on mobile broadband for the first time. We continue to believe Congress’s bipartisan efforts to provide explicit authority to the FCC is the best path forward to preserve an open Internet and provide certainty for all stakeholders.

National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA)

Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to impose the heavy burden of Title II public utility regulation on the Internet goes far beyond the worthy goal of establishing important net neutrality protections. It will result in a backward-looking new regulatory regime, ill-suited for the dynamic Internet, with far reaching and troubling consequences. We believe that such a significant expansion of the FCC’s authority is unnecessary and will only deliver further uncertainty instead of legally enforceable rules that everyone supports. Despite the repeated assurances from the President and Chairman Wheeler, we remain concerned that this proposal will confer sweeping discretion to regulate rates and set the economic terms and conditions of business relationships.

The cable industry has repeatedly voiced our support for sensible net neutrality rules which accomplish the important protections that President Obama and others have supported – no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization and transparency of business practices – and can be enacted without the significant regulatory baggage that comes with public utility regulation. We will need to look carefully at the final order to fully understand the impact on broadband networks and American consumers.

Broadband for America

Chairman Wheeler's proposal to regulate the Internet as a Title II public utility is an unprecedented expansion of FCC power with heavy regulation of the Internet for the first time. This proposal would stifle investment, innovation and consumer choice.  Worse, the Chairman's plan could have spillover effects into the broader Internet ecosystem and threaten Silicon Valley companies that rely heavily on the Internet.

The Chairman's plan to widen the FCC's authority over interconnection contradicts previous assertions that this issue would be kept separate from net neutrality as well as the conclusions of prior FCC commissions, who have held interconnection issues as separate and distinct from net neutrality. There is no market failure to justify such an aggressive intervention – in fact, the market is highly competitive with a track record of working efficiently and benefitting consumers. In this current dynamic Internet environment, it is impossible to predict future usage patterns, content offerings and capacity needs. Therefore, regulation of these complex relationships would likely be costly and impede the Internet's ability to serve consumers' ever-changing needs.

Rather than jeopardize innovation and create legal uncertainty with burdensome new regulations, we urge Congress to work together to establish bipartisan legislation that would codify net neutrality principles and maintain the openness of the Internet. It is critical that our leaders come together to protect the bipartisan-led framework that has advanced the extraordinary growth and deployment of high speed Internet for nearly two decades.

Senator John Thune (R-SD)

Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to regulate the Internet as a public utility is not about net neutrality – it is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bully tactics of political activists and the president himself.

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This is not good for consumers and is not the vision of an open Internet that Americans want. As the public learns more details about the FCC’s overreaching proposal in the coming days and weeks, I believe that the merits of a legislative solution will become undeniable. I am determined to work with my colleagues to find a better path forward regardless of what the FCC decides.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

Today Chairman Wheeler confirmed what was widely reported and, after President Obama’s endorsement, expected: the FCC is planning to go ahead with net neutrality rules under Title II of the Communications Act. As ITIF has repeatedly stated, the decision to classify broadband as a telecommunication service in order to apply common carrier regulations is an unjustified, overblown response to what has in actuality been a by-and-large hypothetical concern. It is important to see Title II for what it is: a dramatic reversal of the light-touch regulatory policy that has seen the Internet flourish through the tenure of the past five FCC Chairmen.

Title II common carrier regulations represent a strong shift towards a European-style, precautionary regulation, over-regulating up-front without legitimate justification. This path will make it much harder to do pro-consumer network management, and is more likely to balkanize the Internet into distinct private networks and specialized services.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

This regulation will essentially cause consumers to pay more for less. In addition to imposing a new annual fees on each broadband subscriber, the FCC’s proposal will almost certainly cause Internet providers to invest less in their networks, meaning consumers and internet-based services will see fewer speed and reliability improvements. If Congress doesn't rein in the FCC, broadband providers will soon look and act like power companies and the old Ma Bell telephone monopoly: stagnant, slow-moving, and anything but innovative.