Title II Regulation of Internet Access Wouldn't Achieve Ban on "Pay for Priority"

“As Democrats who care about the dual priorities of protecting broadband consumers and stimulating broadband investment, we are gravely concerned about President Obama’s endorsement today of monopoly-era, common carrier regulations (called “Title II”) for broadband providers,” say Ev Ehrlich, PPI senior fellow; Michael Mandel, PPI chief economic strategist and Hal Singer, PPI senior fellow.

“The president’s proposal does not balance these goals, nor move us towards compromise on other, arguably more critical, communications issues,” they say.

The Progressive Policy Institute is a policy institute and think tank that claims credit for President Bill Clinton’s “New Democrat” approach.

THe PPI says it concerned both with social equity and economic growth, as well as performance-based government. “We seek to advance progressive, market-friendly ideas that promote American innovation, economic growth and wider opportunity,” the Progressive Policy Institute says.

Ironically, given the widespread concern by network neutrality supporters that “best effort only” remain the only consumer offer for Internet access, “Title II is not necessary to protect consumers from the hypothetical threat of discrimination by broadband providers against edge providers,” PPI says.

In Verizon v. FCC, the D.C. Circuit made clear that the Federal Communications Commission could regulate pay-for-priority deals—and even reverse them after the fact—under Section 706 of the 1996 Act.

More to the point, “Title II itself isn’t guaranteed to stop pay-for-priority by broadband service providers,” they say.

Title II would merely require that the terms of any pay-for-priority deal be extended to all comers.

“The more likely rationale for imposing Title II is to pursue an aggressive regulatory agenda unrelated to net neutrality, in particular, “unbundling,” the policy that requires companies that make investments in broadband infrastructure to share them with competitors at government-set prices,” PPI says.

“Moving backwards to a forced-sharing regime would likely chill broadband investment, along with its job-creation and impact on growth,” PPI says.

“By eschewing real compromise made possible by the D.C. Circuit Court, and instead pursuing a radical prescription of Title II, the FCC guarantees itself a drawn-out litigation battle with broadband providers,” PPI says, when other avenues already exist to achieve network neutrality goals.
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