Cisco, Intel, Qualcomm and others voice opposition to using Title II for net neutrality

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Intel, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Networks and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) are among a group of network equipment and technology companies that are urging the FCC not to reclassify broadband as a Title II common-carrier service as part the agency's effort to institute new net neutrality rules.

The group of 54 companies sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his four fellow FCC commissioners, and urged the commission to avoid Title II. The group of companies are members of the Telecommunications Industry Association, which hosted the letter, and they said that "our companies and our employee--like the consumer, businesses, and public institutions who depend on ever-improving broadband networks--would be hurt by the reduced capital spend in broadband network s that would occur if broadband is classified under Title II. Such a dramatic reversal in policy is unnecessary to ensure an open Internet."

The signatories also included Adtran, Arris, Ciena, Commscope, Corning, IBM, Juniper Networks, Panasonic, and Sandvine. In urging against a reclassification under Title II of the Telecommunication Act, the companies are casting their lot with wireless carriers and ISPs that have said doing so would chill investment in broadband networks.

Last month President Barack Obama openly advocated for reclassification and the strongest possible net neutrality rules, setting off an avalanche of commentary and debate over how the FCC should proceed in crafting net neutrality rules. The FCC has delayed a vote on the rules until next year as it thinks through how to proceed. Net neutrality advocates have urged a move for reclassification, arguing it will put the rules on firmer legal footing, but CTIA and cable companies have been vociferous in their opposition to that stance.

"While many experts have noted the damage Title II could do to network investment, the harm would cascade out far beyond the provision of broadband service because the Internet is now so entwined with our entire economy," the companies wrote.

The companies, many of which make the routers, switches and network gear that form the backbone of wired and wireless broadband networks, warned that if investment falls they will be hurt. "The investment shortfall would then flow downstream, landing first and squarely on technology companies like ours, and then working its way through the economy overall," they added. "Just a few years removed from the worst recession in memory , that's a risk no policymaker should accept, let alone promote."

Wheeler has said that he remains open to Title II but has also pushed a so-called "hybrid" approach that would only reclassify parts of the broadband ecosystem as common carriers.

Meanwhile, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who in January will become chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said this week he is "very interested" in finding a legislative solution for net neutrality that would avoid reclassification under Title II.

"We're continuing to discuss that and try and figure out what it might look like if we might try to do something on the legislative side," as opposed to having the FCC issue stronger rules under Title II, Thune told Bloomberg BNA.

For more:
- see this TIA letter (PDF)
- see this The Verge article
- see this National Journal article
- see this CNET article
- see this Bloomberg BNA article

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