Major carriers blasted the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and its push to have more authority to regulate broadband Internet and classify it as telecommunications service following the FCC'3 3-2 vote to continue considering new federal broadband regulations.
Carriers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon lashed out in statements cutting down the FCC decision to move forward with an inquiry on whether broadband should be classified as a telecommunications service, a move that would give the FCC more control and regulatory power over carriers and the services they provide.
"This is impossible to justify on either a policy or legal basis, and we remain confident that if the FCC persists in its course – and we truly hope it does not – the courts will surely overturn their action," Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, said in a statement posted on AT&T's public policy blog, which called the FCC's vote "troubling" and "unsettling."
Meanwhile, Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications, criticized the FCC further.
"Reclassifying high-speed broadband Internet service as a telecom service is a terrible idea," Tauke wrote in a statement from Verizon. "The negative consequences for online users and the Internet ecosystem would be severe and have ramifications for decades. It is difficult to understand why the FCC continues to consider this option."
Tauke added: "Rather than attempting to make the new world of broadband fit into the regulatory scheme of the old telephone world, the FCC should acknowledge that this is an issue Congress should address."
And in its statement, a more reserved Comcast noted, "While we remain concerned about unjustified regulation, we are encouraged that the careful balancing the Chairman promised in his public statements since first announcing a 'third way' has led to a rational next step as all stakeholders continue to work together to keep the Internet ecosystem growing and open," Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen told The Washington Post.
The FCC has examined three different ways to classify broadband Internet service and providers. The vote on Thursday will enable the FCC to continue its inquest into how best to classify and regulate the Web. The FCC wants to specifically look at whether broadband Internet should continue to be classified as an "information service;" or if its classification should change to a "telecommunication service." There is also a possible "third way" which would leave Internet content and applications unregulated under the Federal Communications Act, identifying wired broadband service as a telecommunications service.
Thursday's FCC vote follows months of back and forth and comes on the heels of the FCC's decision in May to regulate different forms of Internet access in different ways.