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Who wins the net neutrality debate? Google, of course

Matt Hamblen | Nov. 17, 2014
In the debate over net neutrality, AT&T and Cisco are warning that fiber optic cable rollouts could be delayed -- and revenues lost -- if President Obama's recently proposed rules move ahead.

As such, carriers need room to maneuver, he added.

Entner and most carriers support having the FCC regulate ISPs under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act instead of Title II. Section 706 allows for a more targeted oversight by the FCC; Entner described it as requiring the FCC to judge an ISPs investments in technology and decide whether an ISP is doing something anti-competitive. "If a company blocks content, then that could be anti-competitive," Entner said. "Then the FCC could apply fines and penalities."

Using Section 706 powers instead of Title II was recommended by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington when the FCC's authority was successfully challenged early this year, Entner and others noted.

"Obama's trying to use a sledge hammer to fix a problem that needs a scalpel," Entner said. "Title II is such a heavy-handed tool and is completely disproportionate to what's needed."

The primary distinction between the two portions of the Telecommunications Act is that Title II would require ISPs to ask the FCC for permission to do many things, while Section 706 would allow them to operate freely — but under the threat that the FCC could ding them for anti-competitive moves, Entner said.

After the FCC adopts its new rules, the next U.S. Congress is expected to initiate a vast rewrite of the Telecommunications Act, which was approved in 1996 as a major amendment to the Communications Act of 1934. That update could take a decade to achieve.

In the meantime, Google can continue to play it cool.


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