NCTA, cable companies 'stunned' by President's Title II endorsement

With President Barack Obama stridently encouraging the FCC to adopt Title II Internet regulation, National Cable Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell was among the high-profile cable-industry denizens who let out an equally strident negative response.

"We are stunned the President would abandon the longstanding, bipartisan policy of lightly regulating the Internet and call for extreme Title II regulation," Powell blogged. "The cable industry strongly supports an open Internet, is building an open Internet, and strongly believes that over-regulating the fastest growing technology in our history will not advance the cause of Internet freedom. There is no dispute about the propriety of transparency rules and bans on discrimination and blocking. But this tectonic shift in national policy, should it be adopted, would create devastating results."

The President supports the reclassification of consumer broadband services under what's known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The President said such a move would provide a "basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone--not just one or two companies."

But Powell argued: "Heavily regulating the Internet will lead to slower Internet growth, higher prices for consumers, and the threat of excessive intervention by the government in the working of the Internet. This will also have severe and profound implications internationally, as the United States loses the high ground in arguing against greater control of the Internet by foreign governments. There is no substantive justification for this overreach, and no acknowledgment that it is unlawful to prohibit paid prioritization under Title II. We will fight vigorously against efforts to impose this backwards policy."

Comcast executive VP David L. Cohen also weighed in: The change "would be a radical reversal that would harm investment and innovation, as today's immediate stock market reaction demonstrates," he said in a statement. "And such a radical reversal of consistent contrary precedent should be taken up by the Congress."

Added Suddenlink chairman and CEO Jerry Kent: "Title II reclassification is an overreaching attempt to regulate the Internet under 1930s-era rules that will stifle private investment and drive additional anti-consumer taxes and costs," Kent wrote. "Like President Obama, we support an open Internet. Unfortunately, the President has proposed a "solution" in search of a problem. There is no blocking of legal content by ISP's and no paid prioritization with respect to broadband Internet access." 

For more:
- read this NCTA statement

Related links:
President Obama throws support behind the FCC's Title II broadband reclassification option
AT&T's Stephenson appeals directly to FCC's Wheeler to not reclassify broadband under Title II
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