Comcast Calls Obama Net Neutrality Position A “Radical Reversal”

Comcast EVP David Cohen came out with guns blazing against President Obama’s call this morning for the FCC to reclassify the Internet, making it easier for the FCC to enforce tough net neutrality rules. The change “would be a radical reversal that would harm investment and innovation, as today’s immediate stock market reaction demonstrates,” he says in a statement. “And such a radical reversal of consistent contrary precedent should be taken up by the Congress.”

The No. 1 cable company — which wants the FCC and Justice Department to approve its $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable — warns that bad things could happen if the government does much more to control the companies that it believes hold the key to broadband growth. “The internet has not just appeared by accident or gift — it has been built by companies like ours investing and building networks and infrastructure,” Cohen says. “The policy the White House is encouraging would jeopardize this engine for job creation and investment as well as the innovation cycle that the Internet has generated.”

Comcast’s chief public-policy voice adds that people can trust the company. It “fully embraces the open Internet principles that the President and the Chairman of the FCC have espoused — transparency, no blocking, non-discrimination rules, and no fast lanes, which is the way we operate our network today,” he says. “We continue to believe, however, that section 706 [the current regulatory framework] provides more than ample authority to impose those rules.”

AT&T takes a similar view. The president’s support for reclassification “is a complete reversal of a bipartisan policy that has been in place since the Clinton Administration—namely, to treat Internet access as an information service subject to light-touch regulation,” says Senior EVP Jim Cicconi. Like Comcast, he says that “if the government were going to make such a momentous decision as regulating the entire Internet like a public utility, that decision is more properly made by the Congress and not by unelected regulators without any public record to support the change in regulation. If the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action.”

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