Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have all strongly come out against reclassifying Internet services as utilities, with AT&T sounding particularly shrill alarms that reclassifying carriers would kill off its ability to invest in network upgrades. However, GigaOM points out that Sprint on Friday turned its back on its carrier framily members by saying reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Telecommunications Act wouldn’t slow down its efforts to upgrade its services.
“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 regulatory regime,” the carrier writes in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.
There are some caveats here. When Sprint writes about “differentiating” its products, it could mean that it wants to be allowed to create Internet fast lanes where it can charge companies more money to ensure traffic gets delivered faster over its network. Plus, everyone has a definition of what “light touch” means, so it’s easy to imagine Sprint coming out against whatever the FCC proposes if it deems its touch to be sufficiently heavy.
That said, this is still a first for a major ISP to come out an explicitly say that reclassifying carriers under Title II wouldn’t harm its network investments and it’s a big blow to the wireless industry’s claims to the contrary.