FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took the case for Open Internet rules into hostile territory today, delivering a speech at the Internet and Television Expo — INTX — in Chicago.
“The FCC chief received a frosty reception at the gathering, which is hosted by the leading industry lobbying group, National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Wheeler “scolded telecommunications companies, saying they provide America with an increasingly vital public service — the Internet — and regulation is warranted for an industry that lacks sufficient competition,” the story reports.
Said Wheeler, a former president of the NCTA: “More competition would be better.”
The Times notes: “CEOs of cable companies, who were next to take the stage, lamented the FCC’s more hands-on approach to regulations for the Internet. The new FCC rules, adopted earlier this year by a divided FCC, come after decades of the federal government allowing the companies to operate in a less restrictive environment.”
One of the execs who commented on Wheeler’s position was Michael Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, who said: “I am baffled by the chairman’s remarks. There is a presumption of guilt and punishment for success that I’ve never seen before.”
Lawsuits have already been filed, including by the NCTA, in an effort to block the FCC’s Open Internet rules, which are due to take effect in June.
“The new rules demand that broadband companies, such as Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast Corp., treat Internet traffic equally,” the Times reports. AT&T has also filed a lawsuit to fight the regulations.
Following Wheeler’s speech the NCTA released a statement indicating that it appreciated Wheeler’s talk about the importance of net neutrality, and adding: “Cable is the largest broadband industry in America, and our networks are ushering in an exciting transformation of how consumers are enjoying content and experiencing new entertainment services.”