CPUC considers common carrier, net neutrality advice for FCC

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Once again, the California Public Utilities Commission is being asked to weigh in on whether or not broadband should be regulated as a common service. The current Federal Communications Commission is asking for comments on its presumed plans to reverse the decision made during the Obama administration to classify broadband as a telecommunications service under “Title II” of federal communications law and regulate the way Internet service can be provided.

The recommendation in front of the CPUC is to come down on the side of keeping common carrier rules in effect

Staff recommends the Commission comment that in order for the existing Open Internet Rules to remain viable, the FCC would need to retain the “telecommunications services” classification for BIAS, providing Title II as a legal foundation for the rules. Staff further recommends that the CPUC submit comments raising concerns that the FCC may have difficulty explaining its proposal to reverse BIAS classification back to Title I as the 2015 order has only been in place a short time and the FCC has provided scant evidence that either the Title II classification or the Open Internet Rules are not working. At a minimum, the FCC should wait to develop a sufficient record in order to evaluate the full effects of Title II on investment.

The last time the CPUC considered whether to support common carrier regulation for broadband, it decided not to do so, following a messy and politically charged back-and-forth vote. Two of the three no votes are still on the commission: Carla Peterman, who initially voted in favor of common carrier status but was convinced to back down during a break when commissioners left the room, and current president Michael Picker, who offered the anodyne excuse that he wanted to study it further. As if net neutrality hadn’t been the most hotly debated telecoms policy issue for months beforehand.

Round 2 is scheduled for Thursday’s CPUC meeting.