TIA cautions FCC on Net Neutrality: No utility-style regulation

TIA issues new Net Neutrality Comments to FCC; cautions against undermining network’s ability to deliver speed and access.

Jul 16th, 2014

On July 15, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) issued new comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding that agency's efforts to draft new Net Neutrality rules. In the comments, which are available here, TIA provides detailed opinions and suggestions on a range of critical issues.

In the comments, TIA's president Grant Seiffert states, “We continue to make the case that the Internet has flourished because of our nation’s longstanding commitment to a light regulatory approach. Consumers and businesses, along with America’s leadership in innovation, will suffer if new rules limit the network’s ability to provide the highest quality, high-speed access to devices and content. By taking a flexible, case-by-case approach that avoids a strict regulatory regime, the FCC can strike a balance that works for consumers, businesses and the courts.”

“We also want to make clear that classification of the Internet under the Communications Act as a Title II telecommunications service would have a highly negative impact,” Seiffert added. “The question of whether to impose utility-style regulation on ISPs has already been rejected by the FCC and should not be given new life in the current rules.”

The following excerpts from TIA’s comments draw attention to several key issues on which the organization has been advocating.

Traffic Prioritization Allows for Specialized Services

“Consumers would suffer if new regulations inadvertently undermined networks’ ability to deliver services with the quality that users have come to expect…popular consumer services…depend on prioritization to overcome difficulties with latency and jitter that can be made worse by traffic congestion. The same holds true, with particularly serious consequences, for the growing use of high-definition video for a range of needs such as telehealth and public safety. Prioritizing these uses over less technically demanding ones…serves particularized needs at certain times without sacrificing good Internet service to all.”

Title II

“The Commission has considered Title II classification for broadband ISP services several times over the last dozen years – and each time, whether under Democratic or Republican leadership, has rejected it…Recreating a common carrier regime for broadband ISP service now, years after the Commission set a different regulatory course, would thwart the operation of the ‘virtuous cycle’ of investment, competition, and innovation…and throw the industry into disarray.”

Mobile Broadband’s Distinct Attributes Merit Tailored Regulatory Treatment

“The Internet has evolved and gained intelligence in a way that the initial developers could never have imagined, particularly with respect to traffic management…Mobile broadband is especially challenging in this regard. Because wireless networks rely on limited and dynamically changing radio resources, they require operator-controlled traffic management throughout their infrastructure. Should any new Open Internet rules fail to provide sufficient flexibility to reflect those technical realities, they will not serve consumers and could, over the long term, force uneconomic contortions of network design and impede innovation.”

Case-by-Case Review, Not Prescriptive Rules

“Case-by-case adjudication can provide a feasible balance between the need to accommodate rapidly changing technology advances and consumers’ need for assurance that they will continue to enjoy the same fundamental Internet benefits they have come to expect. The agency has experience with regulation through the development of case precedent based on generally articulated standards, which has proved adaptable to changing conditions over time. That approach should work here as well…. Strictly prescriptive rules, in contrast, would hinder both competition and innovation by stifling investment and imposing time-to-market constraints on emerging products and services.”

Visit tiaonline.org for more details.

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