Cohen: Comcast Must Scrutinize Investment in Wake Of Title II - Multichannel

Cohen: Comcast Must Scrutinize Investment in Wake Of Title II

Media Institute's Patrick Maines Says Decision Won't Stand
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Comcast executive vice president David Cohen says that the only certainty after the FCC's vote to reclassify ISPs as telecoms under Title II is the "inevitable litigation and years of regulatory uncertainty challenging an Order that puts in place rules that most of us agree with."

In a blog posting following the vote, Cohen said that Congress should step in, and signaled that the decision could affect its broadband investment plans.

"After seeing the Order [which the FCC won't release until it has addressed Republican dissents, according to FCC lawyers], we’ll have to engage in additional internal scrutiny on what our investment plans with respect to broadband will be going forward," said Cohen.

"While we don’t agree that using Title II is necessary," he wrote, "we are encouraged that the Commission has apparently forborne from numerous statutory provisions and cumbersome regulations, which will alleviate some of the most troubling aspects of using Title II. But we have not yet read the Order as adopted by the Commission, and we are concerned with what some have reported as incomplete legal forbearance in important areas. "

Republican commissioners called it "fauxberance" or "fig leaf forbearance," and argue that the forced unbundling and rate regulation and new taxes are in the offing despite chairman Tom Wheeler's insistence that they are not.

"We are disappointed the Commission chose this route, which is certain to lead to years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty and may greatly harm investment and innovation, when the use of Section 706 alone would have provided a much more certain and legally sustainable path," Cohen said.

Media Institute President Patrick Maines agreed with Cohen's assessment of the certainty of legal action, but he added the certainty that the FCC would ultimately lose.

“Today’s vote by the FCC, promoted by people and organizations with political, ideological, and/or commercial interests, will one day be reversed, either by the courts, or Congress, or both," he said. "It can’t happen soon enough.”