As you must have heard, if the FCC institutes strict net neutrality regulations, and especially if it uses its authority under Title II of the Communications Act, investment in Internet service infrastructure will catastrophically decrease, gutting improvements of our nation’s private data backbone.
Or maybe that is bullshit. Perhaps the concept is instead a boring narrative put into play by companies that would rather not be submitted to a stricter regulatory environment, and are thus predicting doom where no such calamity looms. As you certainly recall, we have already seen this take place, but today we have an even better data point: Sprint.
In a letter to the FCC, Sprint said that, regardless of what legal underpinning the FCC chooses to use to enforce net neutrality, it will continue to invest in its network. This matters, given that the GOP recently called for net neutrality regulations to impact both wireline and wireless data connections. That means Sprint.
Here is Sprint saying it once:
Regardless of the legal grounds proposed, Sprint has emphasized repeatedly that net neutrality rules must give mobile carriers the flexibility to manage our networks and to differentiate our services in the market. With that said, Sprint does not believe that a light touch application of Title II, including appropriate forbearance, would harm the continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband services.
So long as the FCC continues to allow wireless carriers to manage our networks and differentiate our products, Sprint will continue to invest in data networks regardless of whether they are regulated by Title II, Section 706, or some other light touch regulatory regime.
So, there’s that.
I want to point out that Sprint is not the Comcast of its industry, and thus as a more moderate-sized player, may not buck the idea of regulation so much as a Verizon might. But for it to say bluntly that it will continue to invest regardless of how the FCC approaches net neutrality still matters quite a lot.
The next time you hear that investment in broadband will collapse, just repeat “Sprint” three times to yourself, and the Ghost of Regulatory Future will appear and give you a hug.
You can read the full letter here.