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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags broadbandregulationinternettelecommunicationat&tcomcastInternet service providersU.S. Federal Communications CommissionTom WheelerBrookings Institute

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

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?