With the notable exception of Sprint, the wireless industry expressed a good deal of alarm yesterday over FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Communications Act.
CTIA, AT&T and Verizon individually expressed alarm over the proposal, calling it everything from “legally unsupported” to saying the move will endanger the country’s budding economic recovery.
Sprint’s statement on the issue contained none of the alarm expressed by AT&T and Verizon. Instead, the carrier lauded what it called the FCC’s “light regulatory touch.”
“Sprint commends the FCC for the cautious approach it is taking toward this complex subject,” said Vonya McCann, Sprint senior vice president for government affairs. “The FCC can and should foster similar growth in broadband by focusing its energies on protecting consumers by promoting competition and placing checks and balances on providers with market power.”
CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent said in a statement that the FCC’s net neutrality proposal could stymie investment in the wireless space. “Putting that success at risk is unnecessary and dangerous, particularly in today’s economic environment,” he said.
AT&T and Verizon co-parent Verizon Communications both took issue with the legality of the FCC’s move and argued it would harm the economy.
“If the FCC follows through with the chairman’s stated intent, it will have a direct impact on jobs and investment in one of the areas of the U.S. economy that many hoped could help lead the recovery,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T legislative affairs chief, in a statement.
The industry’s fears about the economic impact of the FCC’s decision seemed to be supported by downward trends in telecom stocks yesterday, which were exasperated by a later afternoon panic on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Shares of cable companies Time Warner and Comcast saw their stock fall 8.11 percent and 5.83 percent, respectively, by 2:15 p.m. Central. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile USA parent Deutsche Telekom all slipped more than 3 percent in afternoon trading.
The stocks recovered somewhat by the end of trading but were still down from their opening prices.
Filed Under: Industry regulations