O'Rielly Not High On Over-The-Top NPRM

Possible FCC Effort, Subject New Tech to Old Regs

FCC Commissioner Michael O'Reilly is not rolling out the welcome mat for a Media Bureau Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the works that would classify linear over-the-top video providers as MVPDs.

At a speech to NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association Monday (Oct. 27), O'Rielly said that while he applauded modern regulatory treatment of new services, that didn't mean "subjecting new technologies, services, and applications to the various Titles of the Communications Act."

He gave several "for instances."

The first was that the FCC was "supposedly considering"--first reported by Multichannel News/B&C--that NPRM, which could bring "certain OTT providers" within the scope of Title VI (the 1984 Cable Act regarding franchise and other regs).

Another for instance was the FCC's extension of text-to-911 rules to interconnected OTT text messaging services.

But he spent the largest portion of his speech, according to a prepared text, on net neutrality and proposals to reclassify the transmission component of Internet Access under Title II.

NTCA supports that reclassification, but O'Rielly said he would have to part way with the association on that score. He suggested part of NTCA's motive in supporting Title II was the hope of getting better interconnection arrangements.

"I have to consider whether net neutrality proposals will chill access to capital and broadband deployment," he said. "I am extremely concerned that applying Title II to any part of broadband or the Internet will have this effect. And it will impact not only last-mile ISPs that own transmission facilities but anyone that uses the service as an input to deliver content across the Internet, including some edge providers."

O'Rielly also said the suggestion the FCC could simply forbear a host of Title II provisions troubled him. "There is nothing simple about it. Each party has its own list of provisions that it would and would not want to apply to the service, guaranteeing that there will be protracted legal fights both at the FCC and in court, which will undoubtedly drain resources away from the other reforms you care about."