USTelecom: Advocacy Day Is About Protecting Powerful Edge Players

Spalter blogs that heavy-handed regs won't save net neutrality

USTelecom took the offensive in its blog on the July 12 internet day of action, which organizers meant as a protest of the FCC's planned rollback of Title II.

USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter said that the real issue in the net neutrality protest was protecting the bottom lines of "large, powerful internet companies." Among the participants in the protest are Google, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon, for example.

"Net neutrality is something we all strongly support, and ISPs are committed to modern rules that protect the universally-embraced principles of no blocking, no throttling and no slow lanes," said Spalter, the last a reference to the no paid prioritization rule. "From Amazon to Twitter to Netflix to, yes, even Pornhub, these online giants want consumers to insist to the FCC that only 100 pages of heavy-handed regulations written in 1934 can 'save net neutrality.' These are the same companies that grew to supremacy in the absence of this heavy-handed framework, yet suddenly now they want consumers to believe it is essential." 

ISPs have argued that Washington is hyper-focused on them as gatekeepers, while keeping a hands-off approach on edge providers as though they were still struggling garage-innovators, rather than behemoths with staggering valuations and market power. 

"When you log on today and see the 'spinning wheel of doom,'" said Spalter (part of the protest are graphics simulating those endlessly spinning "load" icons), "keep in mind that some of the biggest and most dominant online companies in the world don’t need you to fight their battles for them, but they are asking anyway."

As with other ISP groups weighing in on advocacy day, USTelecom wants Congress to step in. Spalter says the solution to regulatory certainty is "clean, modern net neutrality rules that safeguard consumers’ online freedoms without sacrificing their equally keen interest in stronger, faster broadband networks—and all the innovation it makes possible."

He says that FCC chairman Ajit Pai, in proposing to roll back Title II for wired and wireless ISPs and interconnections, eliminating the general conduct standard and rethink the other rules "should be commended for seeking that balance in his net neutrality proceeding." But he also said Congress should "do right by all consumers to make these protections permanent under the law."

That is a tall order in a bitterly divided Congress, with some Democrats feeling that coming to the table is not a winning strategy on net neutrality or much else.

(Photo via Frankieleon's FlickrImage taken on Feb. 14, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)