Senate Republicans To Wheeler: Bag Title II

Say if FCC needs help finding authority, it should ask for help from Congress
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Senate Republican leaders joined House members Tuesday in urging FCC Tom Wheeler not to take the Title II route to new Internet neutrality regs he is proposing.

That advice came in a letter signed by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), John Thune (R-S.D.), who is ranking member of the Commerce Committee, and others.

They advised the chairman to work with Congress to develop clear statutory authority rather than "attempting further legal contortions to encumber modern communications networks with last century’s rules."

"The growth of the Internet and the rapid adoption of mobile technology have been great American success stories, made possible by a light regulatory touch for the entire online ecosystem," they said. "This approach has freed Internet innovators and users at the edge, the core, and the last mile to offer services, to build networks, and to buy and sell products based on market demand; no government permission has been necessary.

"Imposing common carrier-style regulation upon any part of the Internet would be a dangerous rejection of this successful policy course, potentially impeding the development and adoption of new Internet technologies and services, and threatening future investment in next-generation broadband infrastructure."

Wheeler has made Title II part of the conversation, but has said, and a top aide reiterated Tuesday, that he thinks he can restore the rules under existing Sec. 706 authority, rather than having to classify Internet access under Title II common carrier regs.

If Wheeler did go that route, he would likely forbear some of those regs to keep from gathering up edge providers in that 'net,  but that would be cold comfort to ISPs.

The CEOs of the major ISPs have also written to the FCC to say Title II is a nonstarter that could be disastrous for the investment in broadband deployment crucial to the FCC's National Broadband Plan.

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