Comments of TechFreedom, In the Matter of the Technological Transition of the Nation’s Communications Infrastructure, FCC
AT&T’s petition presents the FCC with a stark choice: Bootstrap the regulations of a dying 20th century technology platform onto the networks of the future, to ever-diminishing consumer benefits, or take the lead in coordinating the transition to “Internet Everywhere”—Internet analyst Larry Downes’ term for a single IP-based networking standard built into all next-generation infrastructure and equipment.
A wide range of disparate, private wired and wireless networks using a variety of different hardware and software protocols are now converging on native IP technologies—sometimes by accident but increasingly by design. Once doubted, IP has now been embraced by traditional wireline, mobile, cable and satellite providers, as well as incumbent and next-generation content providers. Data, voice, and video are all converging onto a single standard, available wherever and whenever consumers want it. Internet Everywhere in the near future is within our grasp—if only the Commission does what is necessary to allow and encourage it.
While we believe the FCC has a crucial, long-term role to play in shepherding the IP Transition, as outlined in TechFreedom’s Comment, this Reply Comment argues that the FCC should resist the urging of many commenters in this docket to erect regulatory barriers, however well-meaning, to protect consumers from harms that have not materialized and are unlikely ever to do so.
Instead, the Commission should adopt a clear program to facilitate the successful transition to an all-IP network by ensuring that it is unencumbered by inappropriate, legacy regulations. To start, the FCC should approve AT&T’s petition. While the resulting trials are carried out, the agency should move to identify a date certain for concluding the IP Transition. And at the same time, the agency should make clear its intention to refrain from applying interconnection mandates and the apparatus of Title II to the IP network, thereby preempting conflicting state regulations that would otherwise derail the agency’s efforts.