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New America’s Open Technology Institute (“OTI”) has filed extensive comments, reply comments and ex parte filings in the above-referenced dockets in support of a common regulatory framework that reclassifies both fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services as “telecommunications services” equally subject to basic Title II consumer protection regulation. OTI has emphasized, along with numerous other parties, that a divergent regulatory framework for mobile and fixed broadband Internet access services would fail to protect consumers, undermine competition, and is not necessary in light of the Commission’s legal authority to maintain regulatory parity. Within a few years the majority of total Internet traffic will be wireless and on mobile devices, with consumers toggling back and forth between mobile carrier networks and Wi-Fi offload connections. In this wireless future, only a common regulatory framework will best serve the public interest.
Several recent filings by CTIA, Verizon and AT&T reiterate their opinion that even if the Commission reclassifies both fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services as telecommunications services, “Congress intended only mobile offerings that mimic traditional telephone service to be subject to common carrier treatment.” All other mobile services, now and in the future, “including mobile broadband, are ‘private’ offerings, for which Section 332 expressly prohibits common carrier treatment.” To the contrary, as OTI, Public Knowledge (PK), Center for Democracy & Technology and other parties have explained in previous filings, Congress clearly did not intend to forever limit the definition of commercial mobile services (CMRS) – and the “light touch” consumer protections mandated by Section 332(c) – to mobile telephone services. The Congressional intent underlying Section 332 emphasized regulatory parity and focused specifically on distinguishing common carrier from “private” mobile services. In furtherance of this purpose, Congress gave the Commission express authority in Section 332 both to define the terms “interconnected with the public switched network” and to determine, in the alternative, if a service is the “functional equivalent” of a CMRS.
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