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On Second Thought, Getting Regulated Like Old Phone Lines Wouldn't Be So Bad, Sprint Says

The wireless carrier tossed its competitors under the bus by endorsing an upcoming FCC proposal on net neutrality.


Sprint became unlikely besties with consumer groups and net neutrality advocates Friday when it told the FCC that adopting new net neutrality rules under a law written with old phone lines in mind wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“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 Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Sprint’s competitors, including Verizon and AT&T, have expressed contrary views and have warned FCC officials that relying on Title II for the legal authority to act as an Internet-line traffic cop would discourage investment in networks.

In some ways, Sprint’s letter acknowledged the reality that the FCC is likely going to craft new net neutrality, or Open Internet, rules under Title II of the Communications Act no matter how much broadband providers complain. Wheeler recently telegraphed his intention to do that and has White House support for that decision.

Sprint’s move appears to be an effort to make the best of a bad situation and try to convince regulators to give wireless carriers more freedom in how they manage their networks under net neutrality rules.

“So long as the FCC continues to allow wireless carriers to manage our networks and differentiate our products, Sprint will continue to invest in data networks regardless of whether they are regulated by Title II, Section 706 or some other light-touch regime,” Bye wrote in the letter.

Net neutrality advocates quickly began forwarding Sprint’s letter and praising the wireless carrier on Twitter. An FCC spokeswoman did not have immediate comment on it.

“Thanks to Sprint for sprinting ahead on the Open Internet, acknowledging what we have long known: strong net neutrality is good for consumers, competition, innovation and free expression online,” said Michael Copps, a special adviser to Common Cause and a former Democratic FCC commissioner, in a statement.

Here is the full text of the letter from Bye to Wheeler:

This article originally appeared on

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