Small Internet service providers are urging the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a plan to reclassify broadband as a utility service.
“Our companies support an open Internet, but reclassifying and regulating smaller ISPs' broadband Internet access service as a common carrier service is unjustifiable, contrary to law and represents regulatory over kill,” the providers say in a letter reportedly sent to the FCC on Tuesday.
The letter was signed by representatives of two dozen ISPs that say they serve fewer than 1,000 subscribers.
The FCC is expected to move forward next week with a net neutrality plan that hinges on reclassifying the broadband service as a utility, regulated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Net neutrality advocates say that reclassification will enable the FCC to impose the kinds of rules that will prohibit ISPs from discriminating when putting through traffic.
Among other rules, the FCC is expected to ban ISPs from blocking or degrading traffic, and from forging paid prioritization agreements, which involve charging companies higher fees for faster delivery of their material.
The ISPs who wrote to the FCC on Tuesday say it's unnecessary to subject them to net neutrality rules, noting that they don't intend to block traffic or discriminate among content companies. “Many of us face competition, and, in any event, our customers would depart if we impaired their Internet experience,” the ISPs write.
They add that reclassification will burden them with “substantial and tangible” regulatory requirements. “After the Commission imposes common carrier status on us, our companies -- which have no in-house attorneys and no budget line items for outside counsel -- would immediately need to take crash courses to understand Title II requirements,” they argue. “This will badly strain our limited resources.”
Last week, a coalition of 43 municipal broadband providers also said they oppose reclassification due to concerns about “collateral effects” -- including new reporting obligations that would result from common carrier status.