With the Federal Communications Commission expected to vote in less than two weeks on broadband regulations, the cable and telecom lobby already is floating the arguments it will raise against the expected rules.
Former agency chairman Michael Powell, now the head of the industry lobbying group NCTA, said on C-Span's “The Communicators” that the new rules will mark such a “dramatic” shift in policy that the group is likely to mount a legal challenge.
“This industry has invested over $1.2 trillion over the course of the last decade on the assumption that that investment was going into a network that was regulated as a light-touch regulatory environment,” Powell said.
He added that the FCC's anticipated rules are “too serious a change not” to avoid asking a court to review the agency's move.
Powell's statements come around one week after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's said he intends to propose regulating broadband service as a utility, in order to prohibit providers from blocking traffic or charging higher fees for fast lanes.
Internet service providers also are gearing up for a fight. Today, AT&T Vice President Henry Hultquist filed a letter with the FCC summarizing a meeting between company officials and Republican commissioner Ajit Pai -- who's made no secret of his opposition to Wheeler's plan.
AT&T officials take the position that the FCC lacks authority to reclassify Internet access as a common carrier service, and also lacks the authority to apply net neutrality rules to mobile broadband networks.
Meanwhile, AT&T rival Verizon chimes in that “any attempt to 'reclassify' broadband Internet access service ... would be a radical and risky change to communications policy.”
The company adds: “Such action will cause significant, harmful consequences, and it is unlikely to withstand judicial review.”
Sprint, on the other hand, is standing by its prior statement that the expected rules won't discourage investment.
“It's one of those topics that is highly charged, highly politicized and we took a step back and said it works in the interest of our customers, our consumers and the industry,” chief technology officer Stephen Bye told Reuters. Bye added that Sprint finds its competitors' arguments “less than compelling.”