FCC's Wheeler defends net neutrality rules, discounts investment fears

Several broadband providers have announced expansions since the FCC passed the regulations, Wheeler says

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks about the benefits of broadband at the Brookings Institute on June 26, 2015.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks about the benefits of broadband at the Brookings Institute on June 26, 2015.

Predictions from net neutrality opponents that regulations would choke off broadband investment haven't come true, with several service providers announcing expansions in the four months since the U.S. Federal Communications Commission passed new rules, the agency's chairman says.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler defended the commission's net neutrality rules Friday, saying that it would be "unthinkable" for the FCC to allow broadband providers to operate without consumer protection, interconnection and other basic rules. The FCC is focused on expanding broadband coverage and competition and increasing speeds across the U.S., he said, but the commission's net neutrality rules won't get in the way.

"We're not going to let imaginary concerns about investment incentives and the omnipresent boogieman of so-called utility regulation cause us to let up on polices to encourage fast, fair and open broadband," Wheeler said in a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.

CEOs of five broadband providers, including Sprint, Cablevision and T-Mobile USA, have discounted concerns from other providers and free-market advocates that the FCC's net neutrality rules, which reclassify broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service, would discourage investment, Wheeler said.

Wheeler also named eight broadband providers that have announced plans to expand their broadband services since the FCC voted in late February to approve the new regulations. AT&T and Comcast, two of the most vocal critics of the FCC's vote to reclassify broadband, are among the eight providers announcing expansions since then, he said.

Comcast declined to comment on Wheeler's speech. AT&T didn't immediately respond to a request for comments.

Some broadband providers have tried to use a move from copper to digital transmission as "their ticket to escape" responsibilities such as widespread access, interconnection and consumer protection, Wheeler said.

Still, the FCC will not engage in "utility-style regulation" that net neutrality critics fear, Wheeler said. The FCC will be a "referee" on the field, he said.

"I plan to adhere to the wisdom that the best referees do not make themselves part of the game unnecessarily," he added. "Referees make sure the game is played fairly, they don't call the plays."

The FCC will not "micromanage" networks like the agency did in pre-broadband days, Wheeler added. "In that environment, at a time when consumers are demanding better broadband, why would a rational broadband provider not make the investment to give it to them?" he said. "Only if competition is lacking, only if consumer demand is artificially limited."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags telecommunicationat&tregulationTom WheelerBrookings InstituteU.S. Federal Communications CommissioncomcastgovernmentinternetInternet service providersbroadband

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?