Reclassifying the Internet as a utility-like service to ensure Net neutrality would "lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out," according to a Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) letter sent Wednesday to policymakers in Washington, D.C. Among the 60 TIA member organizations signing the letter were Cisco, IBM and Intel.
If the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassifies Internet service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, technology companies developing broadband across the country might reduce their spending by up to $45.5 billion over the next five years because, "if you don't know that you can recover on your investment, you won't make it," according to the letter.
That warning echoes comments made last month by AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson that FCC reclassification would lead his company to put a hold on its high-speed fiber rollout to 100 cities across the U.S.
Proponents of reclassification -- which include the White House, the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumers Union, Etsy, Foursquare, and a number of other organizations -- have come out against any change in FCC regulations that could enable service providers to offer "fast-lane" Internet service for a premium price. They claim such a change would create a two-tier Internet in which most people would be stuck with slow service and tech startups would be unable to compete with larger, deep-pocketed enterprises.
A 'Significant Threat' to Tech Companies
The FCC has fielded more than 4 million comments -- a record -- on the issue of Net neutrality, with a large proportion of those commenters coming out in support of the reclassification. President Barack Obama also weighed in on the topic last month, saying, "I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting Net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online."
TIA CEO Scott Belcher on Wednesday said that reclassification is a "significant threat to the tech companies that build and support the Internet" and "would be detrimental to today's Internet, harming consumer, job creation and economic growth."
The current "restrained policy approach" regarding Internet service has "supported the free flow of data, services, and ideas online while creating a climate that supported private investment in broadband networks," according to the TIA's letter, sent to members of Congress as well as FCC commissioners. "The result has been a technological, economic, and social miracle that has boosted economic productivity and enriched lives, and created in America a symbiotic Internet economy that's the envy of the world."
The U.S. has average Internet connection speeds that place it behind 13 other countries. The top five countries with the fastest Internet connections include South Korea, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands, according to Akamai's most recent "State of the Internet" report.
'Grasping at Straws'
We reached out to Evan Greer, Campaign Director of Fight for the Future, a pro-Net neutrality organization, to get his response to the TIA letter. Greer told us that as Title II becomes more and more inevitable, the cable lobby is grasping at straws and becoming increasingly desperate.
"A letter signed by 60 companies, many with names that your readers wouldn't recognize, pales in comparison to the overwhelming support for Title II reclassification from the more than 40,000 Web sites that participated in the Internet Slowdown, from hundreds of civil society organizations from across the political spectrum, and from the comments of millions of people who have spoken out demanding a neutral Internet free from censorship and throttling," he noted.
Members of Fight for the Future and other organizations held demonstrations Thursday during the FCC's monthly meeting in Washington, D.C. Two protestors were escorted from the meeting room after unfurling a banner that read, "Reclassify Now!" We were unable to reach anyone at the TIA for comment.
Image credit: FCC; iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2014-12-17 @ 9:02am PT
Meanwhile Charter, Comcast, Time Warner and I believe Verizon have all said this will not slow plans to lay fiber. When those companies sound reasonable it makes IBM and Cisco look like slobbering drunks grasping their last bottle like a security blanket.
Lack of imagination and innovation is sadly the new meme in corporate America.
Corporations are Sheeple:
Posted: 2014-12-15 @ 3:40pm PT
Screw Intel and IBM. Thos companies pour so much money into lobbying that when they talk out of the side of their mouths like that you can see the BS roll down their chins.
I hope people take note the companies that are against Title II reclassification. Don't buy from them. I wont buy another Intel product now that I know they stand with the crooks at Verizon, AT&T and Comcast.
Posted: 2014-12-13 @ 4:18pm PT
This is why I use AMD, lol.
Posted: 2014-12-13 @ 1:36pm PT
Hey, I'm still using DSL thru some company that has to use my local Verizon copper lines. I'm on a downgraded DSL tier because I can't afford the full speed DSL I used to pay for. I see 186,000 max on Windows Task Manager when watching Netflix, and I can see the movies with rare buffering recently after complaining to my ISP early this year. YouTube videos do show buffering sometimes because maybe YouTube didn't "pay the decent speed tax"? Task Manager used to show twice that speed before I took the lower speed service. (Now takes a long time to get Windows updates.)
Verizon laid FIOS cable in my neighborhood years ago, waited 3 years before they actually made it available to customers on my street, then expected me to pay $80-100 just to get a high-speed internet connection, twice what I pay for DSL with a static IP address. I didn't want the FIOS TV stations or the phone line they try to force on customers. (At last check, I still can't get unbundled FIOS for a decent price, much less the hassle of a static IP address.)
So, the big question is, will DSL customers benefit from Net Neutrality? That is, will my ISP (thru Verizon's copper) be forced to give me the maximum DSL speed for my location, if Title II prevails? Or will Verizon be forced to give me just internet at 10Gbps, with static IP address, for a reasonable price?
Posted: 2014-12-12 @ 7:20pm PT
Google makes money by charging $70 a month for one gigabit per second full duplex - i.e., in both directions - with its fiber service. That's the standard of comparison.