A consortium of big tech companies including Cisco and IBM – but not Google – warn Congress and the FCC that Internet regulation as proposed by President Obama will “hurt” broadband expansion and lead to “reduced capital spending.”

Just a month ago today, the President reignited the fierce debate over so-called net neutrality, calling for Internet Service Providers to be regulated like utilities. In the letter the tech alliance formed against his proposal the group uses the term “Title II.”

The consortium says if the FCC goes along and orders regulation, which courts have previously rejected, then economic fallout will follow.

“This is not idle speculation or fear mongering,” they wrote.

“And as some have already warned, Title II is going to lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out, because if you don’t know that you can recover on your investment, you won’t make it. One study estimates that capital investment by certain broadband providers could be between $28.1 and $45.4 billion lower than expected over the next five years if wireline broadband reclassification occurs.” (They cited an economic forecast submitted to the FCC in November for that data.)

Recent WRAL TechWire coverage of net neutrality debate:

  • President Obama reignites net neutrality debate
  • Frontier exec blasts Obama’s call for regulation
  • AT&T says it will “pause” future deployments
  • AT&T decides to move ahead with N.C. project
  • FCC warns “big dogs” will sue over neutrality

Interestingly, providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Frontier are not on this list. Perhaps they are letting companies speak on their behalf. But their stance is clear. AT&T has threatened to delay construction of fiber networks beyond those already committed to (such as in the Triangle for the North Carolina Next Generation Network.) Frontier is building fiber right now in Durham, and its CEO has been very outspoken in her criticism of the Obama idea.

Google, which has its own network arm (Google Fiber) supports net neutrality and isn’t cited in the warning sent via letter to the FCC and Congressional leaders on Wednesday.

“Based on our experience and business expertise, we believe that our companies and our employees – like the consumer, businesses, and public institutions who depend on ever-improving broadband networks – would be hurt by the reduced capital spend in broadband networks that would occur if broadband is classified under Title II,” the group wrote.

“Such a dramatic reversal in policy is unnecessary to ensure an open Internet.

“For almost twenty years, national leadership, on a bipartisan basis, has nurtured the broadband Internet with a wise, effective, and restrained policy approach that supported the free flow of data, services, and ideas online while creating a climate that supported private investment in broadband networks. The result has been a technological, economic, and social miracle that has boosted economic productivity and enriched lives, and created in America a symbiotic Internet economy that’s the envy of the world.”

Fueling what the group calls “the modern Internet” is put “at risk” by Title II.

The full letter can be read online at: http://www.tiaonline.org/sites/default/files/pages/Internet_ecosystem_letter_FINAL_12.10.14.pdf