706 Versus Title II – the Slippery Slope

Bob Litan, Senior Fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institute, has written an excellent piece on 706 Authority versus Title II.   Perhaps most interesting is his take on the potential unintended consequences to the broader tech community, how it might “boomerang” on tech.

Reclassifying Internet access as a “telecommunications service” within the meaning of Title II, as supplemented by the provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, opens up the possibility that other tech services meet the same test. The clearest example would be Google’s ultra-fast broadband service, Google Fiber, which the company is gradually rolling out. But it doesn’t stop there. There is a very slippery slope from having designated ISPs as being subject to common carriage regulation to having to include other forms of Internet transmissions as well because they arguably use “telecommunications services”, the legal hook in Title II for its application.

He concludes:  “Broadband access clearly is not a monopoly, but even if it were, the same principle that is found in all other parts of our economy – those [who] want faster service pay for it – should dictate the same result for the Internet.”

As always, read the whole thing.  It’s a thoughtful, thorough look at the issue.