Broadband Industry Fights Back On State & Local Net Neutrality Efforts


The broadband industry isn’t here for your local net neutrality ordinances. In a blog post released today Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO of US Telecom, a broadband industry lobbying group, took governors and mayors to task for crafting their own rules after the FCC overturned nationwide net neutrality crafted during the Obama administration.

Policymakers at all levels of government should be praised for wanting to do everything they can to encourage innovation and broadband-centric opportunities in their communities. And, there are plenty of constructive actions they can take, chief among them encouraging the deployment and expansion of next-generation networks. Yet nothing could be more counter to the collective cause than everyone—no matter how well meaning—writing their own set of rules for how the global internet should operate in their neck of the woods”, Spalter writes.

“Broadband providers have worked hard over the past 20 years to deploy ever more sophisticated, faster and higher-capacity networks, and uphold net neutrality protections for all. To continue this important work, there is no question we will aggressively challenge state or municipal attempts to fracture the federal regulatory structure that made all this progress possible.

The FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules has been met by a significant effort at the state and local level to ensure that guidelines in place even if the FCC says otherwise. Earlier this month, Washington became the first state to enact statewide net neutrality rules,  and several other states are working on legislation of their own. City plans including a recent one in San Francisco, require all vendors to comply with net neutrality if they want to be part of the city’s network. Open access advocacy groups are also challenging the rule change in court.

But, the broadband industry is fighting back and US Telecom has been a key part of that effort. Today’s blog post seems to indicate more is on the way. In the post, Spalter says the industry is also advocating for nationwide consumer protections but didn’t provide details on what those might be.

However, a look at recent issues within the FCC may provide some guidance. In January, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo resigned from the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee because he said the committee under Pai’s leadership favored industry concerns over those of the public. In his letter, Mayor Liccardo said that the industry was pushing for “a set of rules that will provide industry with easy access to publicly-funded infrastructure at taxpayer subsidized rates, without any obligation to provide broadband access to underserved residents.” Earlier this month, several city leaders also sent a separate letter to the FCC advocating for local control on 5G deployment decisions, raising concerns that the FCC was working with industry groups to supersede local policymakers. Watch this space.