Comptel Asks FCC for Restrained Title II Approach to Net Neutrality

An association representing competitive telecommunications providers on Tuesday urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt regulations that would prohibit broadband Internet providers from blocking or discriminating against Web traffic.

In a four-page letter, Comptel and three other organizations also asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to block ISPs from “requiring payment for the delivery of Internet traffic.” Joining Comptel were the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA) and Engine.

“Broadband Internet access service providers should not be permitted to use their bottleneck control over access to their subscribers to harm online services or consumers, whether by targeting specific Internet traffic or by demanding access tolls from providers or networks that interconnect with them,” the groups wrote to Wheeler.

The letter asks the FCC to reclassify broadband Internet service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The groups said the FCC should apply three provisions of Title II and characterized their request as a “restrained” approach to regulation.

AT&T, Verizon and other large ISPs that compete with Comptel’s members – largely in the business market for cloud and communications services – vigorously oppose Title II regulation because they maintain it is onerous and unnecessary to protect consumers from discriminatory practices on the Internet. They contend the FCC can preserve the openness of the Internet by relying on their authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

AT&T and Verizon have threatened to file an appeal if Wheeler reclassifies broadband under Title II. Last month, Wheeler predicted that his Net neutrality rules, once adopted, will inevitably face a lawsuit regardless of what form they take. If the chairman is right, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., will have to decide for a third time whether to uphold or toss FCC Internet regulations.

In January, tossing aside the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order, a panel of judges ruled the FCC was seeking to unlawfully subject broadband providers to “common carrier" regulations. The appeals court threw out the FCC’s anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules, but left alone certain disclosure requirements related to network management.

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