Surprise: Sprint Tells FCC That Title II Is Just Fine By Them

Ever since the (current) net neutrality fight got started a year ago, the battle lines have been pretty predictable: the companies that sell you access to data don’t really want stronger regulations, and groups that sell things that need you to have access to someone else’s data plan do. But in a surprise move this week, Sprint just broke ranks with the AT&Ts and Verizons of the mobile world to tell the FCC that actually, they’re cool with Title II regulation.

Tech news site GigaOm spotted the filing, a letter from Sprint’s CTO Stephen Bye to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and the rest of the commission. In stark contrast to the doom and gloom cries from the rest of the industry, Sprint’s letter says that light touch common carrier regulation in the past is what allowed their company to grow and innovate to begin with, and that they will be just fine going forward if the FCC continues that approach.

Specifically, Bye’s letter begins by saying that 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.”

Sprint then references the origins of mobile service pointing out that the first attempt, a licensed duopoly in the early 1990s, was a flop of “slow deployment, high prices and little innovation.” Later regulation, allowing companies including Sprint to enter the mobile market, was more effective.

But, Bye continues, “some net neutrality debaters appear to have forgotten … that this light touch regulatory regime emanated from Title II common carriage regulation.” And yes, they do indeed seem to forget that whenever it’s convenient.

“So long as the FCC continues to allow wireless carriers to manage our networks and differentiate our products,” Sprint concludes, [we] 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.”

Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s two biggest wireless companies by far, have both been extremely vocal opponents of any move by the FCC to regulate either wired or mobile broadband services as common carriers — despite admitting that Title II regulation would not actually harm their ability to invest in their network.

In surprise filing, Sprint endorses net neutrality [GigaOm]

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