In the Matter of

) ) Framework for Broadband Internet Service ) )

GN Docket No. 10-127

COMMENTS OF GOOGLE INC. Google Inc. (“Google”) hereby responds to the Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”)1 seeking comment on the appropriate legal framework for the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”) to fulfill its obligations under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Act”), with respect to broadband Internet service.2 In the NOI, the Commission seeks to identify the optimal legal and regulatory framework to ensure adequate government oversight over broadband networks and services. Google

believes that, on balance, the most appropriate course is the suggested “Third Way.” Such a tailored approach would subject only the transmission component of broadband Internet service to a small but critical subset of the provisions of the Communications Act. This approach also would clarify that Internet-based content, applications, and services remain unregulated by the FCC. As Google and other leading technology companies have agreed, this approach “will create a legally sound, light-touch regulatory framework that benefits consumers, technology companies and broadband Internet access providers.”3

In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service, GN Dkt. 10-127, Notice of Inquiry, FCC 10-114 (June 17, 2010) (“NOI”).
2 3


Google is a member of the Open Internet Coalition (“OIC”), and joins in those comments as well.

See Letter from the Open Internet Coalition to Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, GN Dkt. 09-51 (filed May 6, 2010).

Comments of Google Inc.

GN Docket No. 10-127

Broadband is critical to our nation’s future, and there is an overwhelming consensus that the goals of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan – to promote deployment, adoption, usage, competition, and innovation – will provide a solid foundation to meet a broad range of challenges, including economic, social, and civic concerns.4 At the same time, broadband networks have a unique role as essential and scarce resources, deployed by relatively few providers, and utilizing valuable government-granted rights and advantages.5 These factors together compel some limited oversight role for government.6 The NOI asks whether the Commission’s “ancillary authority continues to provide an adequate legal foundation.”7 Six months ago, Google would have answered that question in the affirmative, and without reservation. Google has no interest in applying heavy-handed

regulation to broadband networks; indeed, given the healthy symbiotic relationship that exists today between providers of Internet applications and content, and providers of broadband access, Google and many others certainly benefit when broadband companies invest in their access networks. But the Comcast decision8 has re-opened fundamental questions about the FCC’s jurisdiction over broadband Internet services. Welcome or not, the Comcast decision means that


As just one example, the economic impact of Google’s core search and advertising business, conservatively estimated at $54 billion throughout the U.S. for 2009, exemplifies the beneficial “spillover” effects, including investment incentives, of broadband networks. See Google’s Economic Impact, May 25, 2010, available at; see also Economic Impact, available at In particular, facilities-based broadband providers have the unmatched technical ability to control activities at all layers of the broadband network, with the distinct power to carry, inspect, and manipulate “Other People’s Packets,” and to ration both online traffic and broadband capacity. See Comments of Google Inc., GN Dkt. 09-191, at 24-26 (filed Jan. 14, 2010). If the FCC declines to move forward expeditiously, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission appears to be well-positioned to provide the necessary government oversight and enforcement functions. NOI ¶ 30. Comcast Corp. v. FCC, 600 F.3d 642 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (“Comcast”).



7 8


Comments of Google Inc.

GN Docket No. 10-127

ancillary authority – a doctrine of agency authority first recognized in a 1968 Supreme Court decision9 – is not a reliable tool for FCC oversight going forward.10 In light of the Comcast decision, Google believes the Third Way framework described in the NOI – which would apply only in a limited manner to only the transmission component of broadband Internet service – presents the most predictable, effective, and tailored approach of those under consideration. This framework will allow the Commission to continue its lighttouch approach to broadband oversight, which appropriately will leave most elements of broadband service, along with the broad range of Internet content, applications, and other services, free from regulation under the Communications Act. In particular, the Third Way will promote legal certainty and regulatory predictability to spur investment, ensure that the Commission can fulfill the tremendous promise of the National Broadband Plan, and make it possible for the Commission to protect and serve all broadband users, including through meaningful enforcement. By using targeted forbearance, the Third Way essentially will allow the Commission to restore the prior status quo by establishing a solid legal foundation to stimulate investment throughout the Internet space, thereby providing the greatest benefits to the largest number of stakeholders.11 As noted above, we disagree with the view that the Commission should go farther than the limited scope of its Third Way proposal. Indeed, subjecting broadband Internet service to the full scope of Title II would result in regulation far greater than existing FCC oversight of

United States v. Sw. Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 (1968).

Attempts to maintain broadband Internet service’s current classification as only an information service, subject solely to “ancillary” authority under Title I, certainly would face a high legal hurdle. To this point, no legal theories reliant on Title I have been advanced that would provide the FCC with sufficient and predictable authority to carry out its legitimate duties, while also surviving judicial scrutiny. While not optimistic on that score, Google remains open to considering any such theories.


See attached summary chart, “The Third Way Would Provide the Optimal Measure of Predictability and Stability for All Stakeholders.”


Comments of Google Inc.

GN Docket No. 10-127

wireline telephone or wireless networks, and would be inconsistent with consensus deregulatory goals. We also believe that going beyond the Third Way effectively would eliminate any benefits gained from light-touch regulation, and instead could create detrimental impacts to broadband access networks, as well as the individuals and entities that rely on them. For these reasons, the Commission should adopt the Third Way and re-establish the legal foundations for its light-touch, pro-consumer oversight of broadband infrastructure and services. Respectfully submitted,

Richard S. Whitt, Esq., Washington Telecom and Media Counsel Megan Anne Stull, Esq., Telecom Policy Counsel GOOGLE INC. Public Policy Department 1101 New York Avenue NW Second Floor Washington, DC 20005

Donna N. Lampert Mark J. O’Connor E. Ashton Johnston Justin L. Faulb LAMPERT, O’CONNOR & JOHNSTON, P.C. 1776 K Street NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20006 (202) 887-6230 tel (202) 887-6231 fax Counsel for Google Inc.

July 15, 2010


Comments of Google Inc.

GN Docket No. 10-127

The Third Way Would Provide the Optimal Measure of Predictability and Stability  For All Stakeholders
Title I FCC Action 
Maintain current  classification of broadband  Internet service solely as an  information service subject  only to “ancillary” authority. 

Full Title II
Classify the transmission  component of broadband  Internet service as a  telecommunications service  subject to all Title II  provisions and the FCC’s  implementing rules.  Lack of guidance regarding  forbearance could result in  flood of petitions seeking  forbearance from economic,  structural, and entry/exit  regulations that already have  been largely abandoned,  resulting in regulatory  logjam.   Classification without  forbearance could lead to  uncertainty regarding  implementation.

Third Way
Classify the transmission  component of broadband  Internet service as a  telecommunications service  and forbear from applying all  but a core subset of Title II  provisions and FCC rules.     Enumerating up front those  provisions from which FCC  would forbear would  establish a clear regulatory  roadmap going forward. 

Regulatory Predictability  

Uncertainty regarding FCC’s  ability to adopt, apply and  enforce rules in the wake of  the Comcast decision  provides minimal level of  predictability.  

Legal Certainty 

A case‐by‐case approach  would be needed for each  assertion of ancillary  authority, with each case  subject to independent  appellate review, and no  Chevron deference. 

There would be fewer FCC  decisions, resulting in less  appellate litigation.   Classification and  forbearance decisions would  be entitled to Chevron  deference, and are more  likely to be upheld on  appeal.  FCC should not forbear from  Section 208 or related  statutory provisions, which  are necessary to effectuate  FCC oversight.  Sections 201 and 202, and  statutory enforcement/  remedy provisions are core  consumer protections and  should be preserved.  FCC  and service providers have  ample experience with these  provisions.  A stable legal structure  grounded in statute will best  promote NBP goals,  including universal service. 


FCC has no statutory  mechanism to enforce  “ancillary” oversight  authority.    Without enforcement  authority, there is no  effective mechanism to  protect consumers and  competition.    

FCC, consumers and  competitors would have  statutory mechanism to  remedy violations, pursuant  to Sections 206‐209 of the  Act.  Full Title II regulation  provides consumers all  statutory protections, but  the range of applicable  provisions and FCC rules  would be unnecessarily  broad.  Full Title II goes beyond what  is necessary to achieve FCC  and NBP objectives.  

Consumer Protection  

National Broadband Plan  Implementation  

Attempts to assert  jurisdiction to implement  NBP goals would require  case‐by‐case review,  resulting in “complete  unpredictability”  (Commissioner Clyburn). 

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful