Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and his colleagues have close to 22 million comments and replies to sift through as they concoct new rules for the Internet.
Apple Inc. (AAPL) , AT&T Inc. (T) and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) versus Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and representatives of other online services companies such as Facebook Inc. (FB) , Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) Google lodged replies by a Wednesday deadline, along with citizens, public interest groups, state attorneys general and others. Pai has not laid out a time frame for finalizing the rules.
Pai argues that the Obama FCC overreached when it reclassified broadband as a telecom service, akin to a regulated utility, rather than as an information service, which receive little oversight from the government.
Apple expressed concerns that consumers have "fair and open access to broadband services" to seek out music, TV shows, movies and apps online.
"We work hard to build great products, and what consumers do with those tools is up to them-not Apple, and not broadband providers," Apple said in a reply comment.
For its part, AT&T undercut the idea that companies like Amazon and Netflix share a level playing field.
"[T]he Internet is not, and never has been, 'neutral' in the traffic flows that affect how customers experience the services offered by different edge providers," AT&T wrote in its latest message to the FCC.
"For example, Google, Amazon, and Netflix have spent billions of dollars on content delivery networks (CDNs) that enable them to outperform less well-financed rivals that have not obtained similar functionality." the carrier added. While the Internet groups enjoy great advantages in advertising, R&D and their ability to pay top salaries, AT&T added, "no one suggests that the government should intervene to level out those sources of competitive inequality among edge providers."
Likewise, Comcast remarked in is reply comment that "no one is credibly calling for utility-style regulation of the Internet economy simply because Apple products were not available on Amazon for a time, or because Apple and Amazon only very recently reached an agreement to make the Amazon Prime Video app available on the Apple TV platform after years of holdout."
The cable operator denied that it has ever throttled Netflix traffic, and presented its X1 Pay-TV, DVR and app platform as a melting pot for Internet video. Comcast gave Netflix a spot on X1 last year, and said it will integrate Google's YouTube and Dish Network Corp.'s (DISH) Sling TV into the platform.
Updated from Aug. 31 with information about Apple.
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Netflix argued that the broadband providers' connection directly to consumers' homes and to other networks begs for regulation as a telecommunications service that the Obama FCC established. "This unique gate-keeping power enables broadband access providers to control what traffic comes on and off their networks," Netflix wrote in its reply comments.
The Internet Association, which represents Airbnb Inc., Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) , Netflix, Pandora Media Inc. (P) , PayPal Inc. (PYPL) , Snap Inc. (SNAP) and Uber Technologies Inc. to name a few, noted the importance of net neutrality to cultivating new online businesses. "Creating fast and slow lanes would not just harm more established edge providers like Netflix, but would keep smaller providers like Vimeo from becoming the next Netflix and even smaller startups from becoming the next Vimeo," the IA wrote.
Most of the people who wrote in to the FCC, rather than send form letters, support upholding net neutrality regulations, Washington group Fight for the Future stated. The group, which opposes Pai's plan to reclassify net neutrality, cited a study from data analysis firm Emprata.
There are significantly more unique comments submitted against Title II repeal (1.77 million) versus for Title II repeal (24k). In addition, there are considerably more "personalized" comments (appearing only once in the docket) against repeal (1.52 million) versus 23k for repeal. Presumably, these comments originated from individuals that took the time to type a personalized comment. Although these comments represent less than 10% of the total, this is a notable difference.
The Writers Guild of America, East argued in a Wednesday statement that the FCC should not take the nearly 22 million filings from businesses, organizations and consumers lightly. "History will not be kind to the Chair and Commissioners if they decide to wreck Net Neutrality," the Guild wrote.