Posted by: Jim Cicconi on May 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm
We are deeply disappointed that, in order to deal with an adverse court decision, the FCC chairman has decided to subject all broadband facilities, including Internet backbones, to common carriage regulation under Title II. We believe this is without legal basis. Make no mistake—when it regulates the networks that comprise the Internet, the FCC is in fact, and for the first time, regulating the Internet itself. There is no statutory basis for doing so—indeed it is directly contrary to Congress’s stated intentions—and is being done without any compelling evidence that would justify a reversal of the FCC’s prior decisions on this issue. If the FCC follows through with the chairman’s stated intent, it will have a direct impact on jobs and investment in one of the areas of the US economy that many hoped could help lead the recovery.
We do not question the chairman’s good faith or his genuine desire to craft a “third way”. But the fact remains that this approach would subject Internet facilities to some of the most onerous regulatory provisions on the books—provisions drafted in 1934 for a monopoly voice network. To regulate the most modern Internet technology of the 21st century under a model designed for a different era is hard to explain and even harder to justify legally.
The fact remains that Congress has never given the FCC explicit authority to regulate the Internet under Title II. Simply because it desires to do so, or is concerned because a court has questioned its authority to do so, does not by itself confer legal authority. That can only come from the Congress in our system of laws. If the FCC is concerned about its authority, or is unsatisfied with available Title I remedies, the right and proper step is to place that question before the Congress. We feel confident that if the FCC proceeds down this path, the federal courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion.
AT&T has always supported Internet openness, and we were one of the first to embrace the FCC’s Open Internet Principles. We have always abided by them, and pledge we will continue to do so. As the FCC continues its process to resolve questions about its authority in this area, we will work with them constructively in hopes of outlining legal alternatives that can ensure adequate authority for the Commission without undue risk to jobs and investment.