Sprint has a change of heart on net neutrality

When the Federal Communications Commission voted to roll back net neutrality regulations last week — no longer requiring telecommunications companies to treat the internet as a public utility — Sprint joined several big providers in lauding the repeal as a way to remove regulatory uncertainty.

“Sprint applauds the FCC’s efforts to simplify a complex and challenging issue, while balancing multiple stakeholder interests in this important proceeding,” Sprint said in a statement after the ruling. “Complex and vague regulations previously created uncertainties around net neutrality compliance. The commission’s decision today eliminates those uncertainties and appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and offer competitive products.”

That’s a departure from Sprint’s attitude toward net neutrality in 2015. In a letter to then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, former Sprint CTO Stephen Bye took a departure from other telecommunications companies by stating that the company did not believe a “light touch application” of the regulation would affect investment in mobile broadband. The regulations prevented internet providers from prioritizing some websites over others or charging for certain content.

Since then, Sprint’s position in the market has changed. In January, the carrier bought a 33 percent stake in music streaming company Tidal, and just last month it launched a partnership with Hulu to offer free access to its video streaming service.

However, Sprint may not benefit as much as its larger competitors; its smaller subscriber base might give it less leverage with media companies like Netflix. So far, analysts estimate that AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless will benefit the most.

Read more: Kansas City Business Journal

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