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Net neutrality

Ericsson Files Net Neutrality Comments with the United States FCC on July 17, 2017.

Jared Carlson, VP Public Affairs and Regulations, Ericsson North America

Ericsson filed comments in support of the FCC’s proposals to roll back the more onerous aspects of Net Neutrality rules put into place under Chairman Wheeler’s FCC. Ericsson focused on 5G in particular, and the differentiation it can offer for different traffic types. Ericsson’s Jared Carlson and Kelley Shields lead the response team.

Impact of Rules on Broadband Investment and Innovation
The current framework risks impeding online innovation and investment. The open internet must permit operators to deliver differentiated user experiences. But the amorphous general conduct standard and the categorical prohibition against paid prioritization foreclose that. Network slicing is one example of what is at stake. Each customized network slice matches the level of delivery complexity required by different supported services. Providers can use network slices as their services dictate and as their customers demand, including in ways that cannot yet be imagined. Broadband regulation can and should account for and promote these sorts of benefits. 

Net neutrality regulation and Title II reclassification threaten network investment, as found in the NPRM, the Nineteenth Report on mobile competition, and other studies. Ericsson’s own experience confirms these trends. As detailed in an attached declaration, after the 2015 Order, wireless carrier CAPEX spending dramatically decreased. While this negative revenue trend was attributable to more than one factor, the adoption of the 2015 Order cannot be ignored.

Parity between Mobile and Fixed Broadband Regulation
The highly competitive nature of the mobile services marketplace warrants limited regulation. Wireless is proof that under a “light touch” regulatory approach, the internet can thrive. Until 2015, in the absence of strict net neutrality regulation and Title II classification for mobile wireless operators, competition grew, usage surged, prices dropped, and there were no signs of systemic consumer harms. Because competition is greater today, the case against net neutrality regulation and Title II reclassification is even stronger now.

Broadband Classification
Classification of Broadband Internet Access. The FCC should revisit its Title II classification analysis, taking into account the perspective of broadband users. The FCC previously ignored extensive evidence that consumers view broadband as a single, integrated service that provides functionalities above and beyond transmission; they do not want a mere conduit. This is truer today, when customers increasingly want innovations from their broadband providers such as differentiated QoS. Ericsson supplies functionalities that operators seek in order to respond to these demands.

Specific Rules
Internet Interconnection and Traffic Exchange.  The FCC should relinquish any authority over internet traffic exchange. Such regulation can constrain private negotiations and thereby prevent parties from securing mutually beneficial arrangements.

Congressional Action
The back-and-forth of net neutrality policy resulting from court decisions and changes in FCC leadership underscores the importance of Congress stepping in to adopt an open internet framework that is reasonable, sustainable, and nationwide. Without legislation, the current flux creates significant uncertainty about whether any regime will remain intact. The prospect of toggling between opposing frameworks risks grinding innovation to a halt.