Calling it a dramatic and unnecessary step that risked calling into question the agency's credibility, the Federal Communications Commission's two Republicans said the FCC was crossing a "regulatory Rubicon" by classifying Internet access as traditional phone service under Title II.
"This proposal is disappointing and deeply concerns us," said FCC Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker in a joint statement on May 6.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski Thursday called his just-announced proposal to classify the transmission element of broadband under Title II, while forbearing (not applying) a number of provisions, a light-touch approach and middle ground to help classify the current regulatory uncertainty.
But McDowell and Baker saw it quite differently. "It is neither a light-touch approach, nor a third way," they said. "Instead, it is a stark departure from the long-established bipartisan framework for addressing broadband regulation that has led to billions in investment and untold consumer opportunities. It also poses serious ramifications across the globe."
The pair said the FCC has been warned by investors that "to foist burdensome rules excavated from the early-Ma Bell-monopoly era onto 21st Century networks" would create regulatory uncertainty of its own "that will inhibit the investment of risk capital America badly needs to improve and expand our broadband infrastructure and create jobs."