Tech companies warn Web rules would be ‘extremely disruptive’

Nearly three dozen major technology manufacturers and suppliers are warning the Obama administration against tough new regulations on broadband Internet companies.

Deciding to regulate broadband Internet service like a public utility would be “extremely disruptive” to the industry and could lead to worse service for everyone, the 33 companies wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny PritzkerOvernight Cybersecurity: Obama signs trade secrets bill Overnight Finance: Trump now open to raising minimum wage Pritzker urges passage of trade deals to boost US exports MORE.

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“Resources that would normally be spent on building and improving infrastructure would instead be spent complying with burdensome regulatory obligations, and uncertainty regarding future profitability would deter additional private investments,” wrote the companies. “If investment in broadband services declines, it will set off a domino effect of decreased investment and innovation…”

Major firms like Cisco, IBM and Intel were among the companies that signed Tuesday’s letter.

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) works on new net neutrality regulations to block companies like Comcast or Time Warner Cable from blocking or slowing users’ access to specific websites, some have called for it to take the radical step of reclassifying broadband Internet as a “telecommunications service” — like phone lines — instead of an “information service.”

That step would allow the FCC to impose tough rules, but would surely lead to a lawsuit from telecom companies or congressional Republicans, both of whom have warned against the move.

This week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) became the latest to call for the FCC to reclassify broadband. Companies like Netflix and many consumer advocacy groups have said the same thing.

Opponents of reclassification say it would apply outdated rules to the Web that were developed for 20th Century phone companies.