Verizon: Title II Reclassification Radical, Risky

Tells FCC Forbearance No Panacea for Common-Carrier Ills
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With  the days dwindling until the FCC's planned Feb. 26 vote on new net-neutrality regulations, Verizon was pulling out all the rhetorical stops on Monday (Jan. 26) as it argued against Title II reclassification of Internet access.

"[A]ny attempt to 'reclassify' broadband Internet access service as a Title II telecommunications service would be a radical and risky change to our nation’s long-standing, bipartisan communications policy," Verizon said in a filing with the FCC.

It was Verizon's challenge to the FCC's Sec. 706-based Open Internet order back in 2010 that lead to a court rejecting most of those rules, and the FCC's subsequent effort to restore them under new legal justification. Verizon was saying Monday that everybody is now on the same page about Sec. 706.

"All the major broadband Internet access providers and their trade associations agree that the Commission can use its Section 706 authority to prohibit harmful 'paid prioritization' arrangements, blocking and other such practices," the company said.

Defenders of Title II reclassification have said the FCC will forbear (not apply) most of those common-carrier regs, but Verizon said forbearance "is no panacea for the ills of Title II reclassification" and that it believes Title II fans have an ulterior motive.

"Their wish list involves several onerous obligations — ranging from rate regulation to mandatory unbundling — that have nothing to do with the openness of the Internet," Verizon said. "And the forbearance for which they advocate is not forbearance at all, or would involve forbearance from only those provisions of little practical consequence. Their end game is not rules to ensure an Open Internet, but regulation for regulation’s sake."

But even if the FCC limited its Title II reclassification to only three sections — 201, 202 and 208 — Verizon said, that would be forbearance in name only and allow for rate regulation. "There is nothing rrestrained' or 'light-touch' about such a regulatory regime for broadband," Verizon said.

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