Telecommunications Industry Association board members will be
flying into Washington next week to "plead" with the FCC not to
reclassify broadband as a Title II service and to urge Congress to help clarify
the FCC's broadband authority.
That is according to TIA VP of Government Affairs Danielle Coffey.
"It absolutely slaughtered our industry in the past when certain Title II
provisions have been imposed on our customers," she said. "We have
lived through it and they are coming back to say: ‘Don't do it again,' and
we are pleading with them not to."
She said the Hill "may be the only ones who can" provide the
regulatory certainty they need. TIA members include AT&T Wireless,
Alcatel-Lucent, Harris and Hughes.
"We are flying in about 15 CEO's of manufacturers and
providers of telecom equipment on Sept. 15 and 16," she said, to meet with
House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.), House
Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking
House Telecom committee member Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Senate Commerce
Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski, and senior Republican Robert McDowell.
"This issue is really, really important to our
industry," she said.
Jason Goldman, counsel for telecommunications and e-commerce for
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said his group would be talking to many of the
same folks, as well as reaching out to the grass roots.
Marc-Anthony Signorino, director of technology policy for the
National Association of Manufacturers, said they would be talking to
stakeholders and "putting out good karma to the universe" on getting
their way on the broadband issue.
The three hosted a conference call Thursday in advance of
Congress' return next week. Their message was that the government should do
nothing to discourage deployment and investment in broadband and the job growth
and consumer benefits it provides. Goldman pointed out that the Chamber
represented some three million businesses, many of of whom need broadband
to grow from small businesses into big ones.
What they don't want is the FCC reclassifying broadband under
Title II. What they do want is some regulatory certainty from Congress based on
industry negotiations over an agreed-to set of openness principles. They don't
want Congress to rush though, saying legislators should take their time, and
suggesting they did not see anything likely happening in this
Congress. Signorini said there was no crisis that should be prompting a
rush to act, saying there was no evidence of harm, and there was plenty of
authority among the FCC, FTC, Justice and the courts to deal with any that
All three said they supported adding a transparency principle to
the FCC's existing four broadband "freedoms" and even a version
of a "nondiscrimination" principle so long as it had sufficient
qualifications and modifications, though Coffey said the devil would be in the
details on that issue. "If there is language surrounding any requirement
that makes us feel comfortable, then we would absolutely be supportive of
that," she said. What we are looking for is a solution that allows us to
move forward. It is not about one word or one issue..." Signorino and
In its request for more comment on the expansion/codification of
network neutrality principles, the FCC said that industry players were getting
close to an agreement on principles including some form of nondiscrimination.
With TIA representing manufacturers on all platforms--wired as
well as wireless broadband--it takes a "technology neutral"
position when it comes to application of regulations. But at the same time,
asked whether or not TIA supported exempting wireless broadband from openness
principles, Cofffey said: "I think the commission has to recognize
the differences in the platform itself and the characteristics of the
technology used, Equitable is not always the same as equal," she said,
pointing to the spectrum scarcity issue as one difference between wired and
wireless. "It is a physics difference not necessarily a policy
But while she said the FCC should recognize the difference in
technologies, she also warned it should not be picking winners and losers
through the way it applied its regulations.