THE BIGGEST NAMES in hardware have teamed up to send an open letter to the US Federal Communications Commission decrying proposals to reclassify the internet as a Title II utility.
The letter is signed by representatives from 60 companies, including big name corporations such as IBM, Cisco, Broadcom, D-Link and Intel, and states that they believe such a move would lead to people being "hurt by the reduced capital spend in broadband networks that would occur if broadband is classified under Title II".
It goes on to explain that such draconian measures are not necessary to ensure an open internet, before insisting that their claims are "not idle speculation or fear mongering".
And as some have already warned, Title II is "going to lead to a slowdown, if not a hold, in broadband build out, because if you don’t know that you can recover on your investment, you won’t make it".
The letter comes as a huge blow to campaigners defending net neutrality, a contingent of which briefly interrupted an FCC hearing earlier this week with a protest against plans to allow internet 'fast lanes'.
Previously the lines between the two camps were assumed to be the cable industry versus 'everyone else', but this letter redraws those lines.
The letter does not specifically come out against net neutrality, but rather requests that the status quo be maintained.
However, this will not be seen as decisive enough for campaigners who have seen the net neutrality debate fuelled by the internet's status as an information service, rather than a utility.
The FCC has confirmed that no decision on the future of the internet in the US will be made before Christmas, after a direct endorsement of the net neutrality camp was issued by Barack Obama.
The US president's influence is important, although he cannot veto any decision by the FCC.
Whatever happens, all sides are promising to sue and countersue, meaning that a full and final decision could be years away.
Other signatories of the letter include Pace, Ericsson, Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent. µ
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