Earlier today, the FCC voted in a 3-2 split to move ahead with plans for fresh net neutrality rules. All told, this new set of proposed regulations isn’t that different from the commission’s first proposal, which was shot down by a federal court earlier this year. In brief, the FCC wants to impose a “no blocking” rule, and is calling for a “fast and robust” performance baseline. Meaning, even if a company like Comcast wanted to charge Netflix for faster service, it would still have to deliver adequate speeds even for websites that weren’t in the fast lane. Speaking of, these new rules do indeed allow for so-called fast lanes, though again, it’s unclear how slow the “slow lane” will be. Finally, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is also calling for an ombudsman to investigate complaints of abuse on the part of ISPs. As you can imagine, internet service providers aren’t happy about that last one. Or any of it, really.
In a statement, AT&T said:
Going backwards 80 years to the world of utility regulation would represent a tragic step in the wrong direction. Utility regulation would strangle investment, hobble innovation, and put government regulators in charge of nearly every aspect of Internet-based services. It would deprive America of the world’s most robust broadband infrastructure, and place a cloud over every application or website that delivers products and content to consumers. In short, it would place government in control of the Internet at the expense of private companies, inventors and entrepreneurs, and ultimately at the expense of the American people.
“Such an approach would also send an alarming message to the rest of the world-a message that says the United States believes it is appropriate for governments to place onerous regulations on the Internet. This could encourage other countries to pursue their own goals, whether to suppress ‘dangerous’ speech or extract economic value from American Internet and content companies.
Tragic. Strangle. Hobble. Deprive. Alarming. Onerous. Got it: Ma Bell ain’t pleased.