By now, we’ve made it pretty clear that while Title II is being portrayed as a big, scary bogeyman by the nation’s largest ISPs, it’s really only a regulatory burden if you’re doing something wrong. And while ISPs like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T have been making the rounds telling anyone who’ll listen that Title-II based rules will stifle industry investment, those same ISPs have been not only regulated for years under Title II without problems, but ISPs like Verizon, Charter and Time Warner Cable have also been admitting to investors that’s simply not true.
Enter hardware vendors like Sandvine, Cisco, Intel, IBM and Adtran, who last week joined forces to oppose Title-II based net neutrality rules in a letter (pdf) to Congress and the FCC. Even though the investment-bogeyman mantra has been thoroughly debunked by this point, that didn’t stop the companies from upping the rhetoric ante — and proclaiming that Title II will kill the entire economy:
“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…Reversing course now by shifting to Title II means that instead of billions of broadband investment driving other sectors of the economy forward, any reduction in this spending will stifle growth across the entire economy. This is not idle speculation or fear mongering. And as some have already warned, Title II is going to lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out, because if you don’t know that you can recover on your investment, you won’t make it.”
Except fear mongering is exactly what it is. Wireless voice has always been regulated under Title II, yet wireless has seen an explosion in network investment over the last decade. Verizon’s FiOS services are regulated under Title II for tax purposes, and a quick glimpse skyward should illustrate that the sky didn’t fall. Meanwhile, to encourage regulatory apathy, the letter perpetuates the boring falsehood that the broadband market has “flourished” under a decade of deregulation regulatory capture, when the lack of competition, high prices, and horrid customer service clearly shows that’s not the case.