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BEFORE THE

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION


WASHINGTON, DC 20554

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

1
In the Matter of Framework for Broadband Internet Service, GN Dkt. 10-127, Notice of Inquiry, FCC
10-114 (June 17, 2010) (“NOI”).
2
Google is a member of the Open Internet Coalition (“OIC”), and joins in those comments as well.
3
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

4
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 http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/googles-us-economic-
impact.html; see also Economic Impact, available at http://www.google.com/economicimpact/.
5
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).
6
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.
7
NOI ¶ 30.
8
Comcast Corp. v. FCC, 600 F.3d 642 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (“Comcast”).

2
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 light-

touch 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
9
United States v. Sw. Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157 (1968).
10
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.
11
See attached summary chart, “The Third Way Would Provide the Optimal Measure of Predictability
and Stability for All Stakeholders.”

3
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., Donna N. Lampert


Washington Telecom and Media Mark J. O’Connor
Counsel E. Ashton Johnston
Justin L. Faulb
Megan Anne Stull, Esq.,
Telecom Policy Counsel LAMPERT, O’CONNOR & JOHNSTON, P.C.
1776 K Street NW, Suite 700
GOOGLE INC.
Washington, DC 20006
Public Policy Department
(202) 887-6230 tel
1101 New York Avenue NW
(202) 887-6231 fax
Second Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Counsel for Google Inc.

July 15, 2010

4
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 Full Title II Third Way


FCC Action  Maintain current  Classify the transmission  Classify the transmission 
classification of broadband  component of broadband  component of broadband 
Internet service solely as an  Internet service as a  Internet service as a 
information service subject  telecommunications service  telecommunications service 
only to “ancillary” authority.  subject to all Title II  and forbear from applying all 
provisions and the FCC’s  but a core subset of Title II 
implementing rules.  provisions and FCC rules.  
 
Regulatory Predictability   Uncertainty regarding FCC’s  Lack of guidance regarding  Enumerating up front those 
ability to adopt, apply and  forbearance could result in  provisions from which FCC 
enforce rules in the wake of  flood of petitions seeking  would forbear would 
the Comcast decision  forbearance from economic,  establish a clear regulatory 
provides minimal level of  structural, and entry/exit  roadmap going forward. 
predictability.   regulations that already have 
been largely abandoned, 
resulting in regulatory 
logjam.  

Legal Certainty  A case‐by‐case approach  Classification without  There would be fewer FCC 


would be needed for each  forbearance could lead to  decisions, resulting in less 
assertion of ancillary  uncertainty regarding  appellate litigation.  
authority, with each case  implementation. Classification and 
subject to independent  forbearance decisions would 
appellate review, and no  be entitled to Chevron 
Chevron deference.  deference, and are more 
likely to be upheld on 
appeal. 

Enforcement  FCC has no statutory  FCC, consumers and  FCC should not forbear from 


mechanism to enforce  competitors would have  Section 208 or related 
“ancillary” oversight  statutory mechanism to  statutory provisions, which 
authority.  remedy violations, pursuant  are necessary to effectuate 
  to Sections 206‐209 of the  FCC oversight. 
Act. 

Consumer Protection   Without enforcement  Full Title II regulation  Sections 201 and 202, and 


authority, there is no  provides consumers all  statutory enforcement/ 
effective mechanism to  statutory protections, but  remedy provisions are core 
protect consumers and  the range of applicable  consumer protections and 
competition.     provisions and FCC rules  should be preserved.  FCC 
would be unnecessarily  and service providers have 
broad.  ample experience with these 
provisions. 

National Broadband Plan  Attempts to assert  Full Title II goes beyond what  A stable legal structure 


Implementation   jurisdiction to implement  is necessary to achieve FCC  grounded in statute will best 
NBP goals would require  and NBP objectives.   promote NBP goals, 
case‐by‐case review,  including universal service. 
resulting in “complete 
unpredictability” 
(Commissioner Clyburn).