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Telecom sector opposes US plan to reinstate net neutrality rules

Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. telecom industry opposes the Federal Communications Commission plan to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules that were repealed in 2017 under President Donald Trump.

Net neutrality rules bar internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic or offering paid fast lanes.

USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter of the group, whose members include AT&T, Verizon, SpaceX and others, called the effort "entirely counterproductive, unnecessary, and an anti-consumer regulatory distraction."

NCTA - The Internet & Television Association, representing major internet service providers including Comcast, said the plan would "seriously jeopardize our nation’s collective efforts to build and sustain reliable broadband in rural and unserved communities," and said it would result in "years of litigation and uncertainty."

Reuters first reported the FCC's plan to vote on April 25. The commission wants to assume new regulatory oversight of broadband internet that was rescinded under Trump, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel told Reuters Tuesday.

Reinstatement of the rules has been a priority of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Amazon.com, Apple, Alphabet and Meta Platforms, in December backed reinstatement, arguing that the rules "must be reinstated to preserve open access to the internet."

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said Wednesday said net neutrality rules "will raise prices, crowd out innovation, undermine broadband deployment, and benefit no one except the overbearing Biden FCC in its never-ending efforts to control the internet."

Democratic Senator Ed Markey said reinstating "net neutrality protections is vital to protecting the free and open internet and ensuring the FCC has authority over broadband."

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)