Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Urge FCC to Reject Title II Regulation of Internet

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In a letter Wednesday, 60 technology companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco and Juniper Networks urged regulators to reject reclassification of the Internet under Title II regulation, claiming such a move by the Federal Communications Commission could hamper investment in broadband, including the network equipment sector.

The Internet has blossomed under a restrained policy approach, but Title II would endanger the continued buildout of faster networks, the tech companies said. FCC commissioners must decide whether to regulate the Internet under Title II or invoke its authority under a separate provision of law that a federal appeals court recognized in January when it threw out Internet regulations that were adopted in 2010.

The letter cited one economic study that projected wireline and wireless capital investment could plunge by between $28.1 billion and $45.4 billion if the FCC subjects the Internet to Title II regulation. USTelecom, the trade organization in Washington, D.C., whose board members include executives from AT&T, CenturyLink and Windstream, submitted the study last month to the FCC.

“If even half of the ISPs decide to pull back investment to this degree, the impact on the tech equipment sector will be immediate and severe, and the impact would be even greater if wireless broadband is reclassified,” the technology firms said in the letter, which was addressed to FCC commissioners and leaders of the House and Senate.

“The investment shortfall would then flow downstream, landing first and squarely on technology companies like ours, and then working its way through the economy overall,” the letter added, reminding regulators and lawmakers of the recent U.S. recession that was one of the worst in the history of modern times.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Title II has its origins in the 1880s regulation of railroads and was originally enacted as part of the Communications Act of 1934 to address monopoly power of telecom services. The biggest U.S. telecommunications companies, including AT&T and Verizon, are opposed to Title II regulation and contend it is unnecessary to preserve the openness of the Internet and prevent disparity in the treatment of websites. Others including consumer advocacy groups argue Title II is necessary to prevent broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content.

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