The National Cable & Telecommunications Association told the FCC Wednesday that while it could live with new net neutrality rules, it could not do so if they were tied to Title II classification of Internet access.
NCTA blogged as much earlier this week, but made it official with a filing to the FCC that did not bury the lead.
"[T]he existing transparency rules provide a strong foundation for promoting Open Internet principles, and, to the extent the Commission determines that additional safeguards are necessary, the Verizon decision provides ample leeway to adopt such measures pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act," NCTA wrote. "In light of that recently confirmed authority, it is wholly unnecessary to pursue a Title II reclassification theory. It also would be immensely destabilizing."
For one thing, that is because Title II would land the new rules in court, NCTA made clear.
"At a minimum, pursuing Title II reclassification would plunge the broadband industry into a lengthy period of uncertainty while a new round of appellate proceedings ran its course—a process that can be easily avoided by relying on the roadmap provided by the Verizon court."
NCTA has said it would be at the table to help draft supportable net neutrality rules, as it was the first time. In both instances, a main goal is to avoid the "nuclear option" of Title II.
But even if the FCC could reclassify broadband services, it would be unwise to do so, says NCTA. "The burdens and uncertainty associated with Title II regulation (or even the threat of such regulation) would deter broadband providers from making the substantial additional investments required [as much as $350 billion] to deploy new and upgraded broadband infrastructure."
NCTA also echoed a growing refrain from Title II opponents: Reclassification would not prevent the paid priority "fast and slow lanes" that has become the flashpoint for net neutrality advocates. "Reclassification would not support a categorical prohibition on Internet “fast lanes” any more than Section 706 would. Section 202 of the Act does not impose a duty of “nondiscrimination,” but rather proscribes only “unjust” or “unreasonable” discrimination."
NCTA President Michael Powell knows a little bit about the issues, having been on the commission when classification issues were being debated and decided back in the early 2000s.