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Net neutrality proposal could lead to broadband taxes, opponents say

Grant Gross | Nov. 17, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama's call for the Federal Communications Commission to pass net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a regulated public utility is a bad idea that could raise broadband prices by 16 percent or more, a parade of Republican politicians and conservative activists said Friday.

O'Rielly was more pointed. Obama has an "important voice" in the net neutrality debate, but the FCC is "required to make decisions on a full and substantive record, not on the sole views of any particular elected official," he said.

Speakers at the event voiced often-repeated arguments against strong net neutrality rules. New regulations would deter investment in broadband, some said, while noting that AT&T has decided to pause an announced investment in fiber while the FCC works on net neutrality rules.

During the past 10 years, there have been only a couple of broadband provider violations of net neutrality principles, one when a small provider blocked VoIP service and the second when Comcast throttled BitTorrent, said Deborah Taylor Tate, a FSF senior fellow and former Republican FCC member.

"Unless and until we really have a true complaint at the FCC, it's hard for me to understand what the exact problem is," Tate said. "Not some hypothetical what if, but what is the real problem that occurred, so that you could then create rule."

Opponents of Title II regulation have overlooked several examples of mobile broadband providers blocking or throttling text messages and other content, Public Knowledge's Weinberg said.

Weinberg discounted predictions that broadband providers would stop investing in new networks because of strong net neutrality rules. Strong net neutrality rules will increase investment in Web companies, he predicted, and new Web-based services will drive demand for broadband.

AT&T's announcements in 2013 and earlier this year to deploy fiber in new areas didn't offer a lot of specific information, Weinberg said.

"A lot of people had considered that fiber deployment to be fiber to the press release," he said.


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