At last Friday’s deadline for the submission of comments on the FCC’s latest rulemaking proposal in the Open Internet proceeding, the agency found itself sifting through a record- breaking deluge of more than one million responses filed by parties ranging from individual citizens to the top national carriers.  The tidal wave proved to be so overwhelming that FCC officials were forced to extend the original July 15 filing  deadline to July 18 to alleviate gridlock on the agency’s online electronic comment filing system.  Yet, as FCC staff members began the arduous task of sorting through these documents, several standouts emerged with the common theme of encouraging a flexible regulatory approach to net neutrality that would be supported by the FCC’s existing authority to promote deployment of competitive broadband services under Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  In separate filings, Verizon Communications and AT&T called for a flexible regulatory framework that avoids reclassification of broadband Internet services as a Title II telecommunications service. While urging “an especially light touch” for providers of wireless mobile data services, Verizon recommended that, in view of the competitive state of the broadband market, any net neutrality rules adopted by the FCC “should give broadband providers broad flexibility to implement new and novel service offerings and business models, including differentiated network management and pricing arrangements with content providers that have the potential to provide valuable alternatives to consumers.”  As it called for “targeted and flexible rules,” AT&T also argued in favor of a non-discrimination standard that “precisely targets” paid prioritization.  Such a rule, AT&T suggested, “could include measures to address commercial arrangements in which an edge provider directs an Internet service provider to prioritize traffic over a consumer’s last-mile connection for fixed broadband . . . without the knowledge and consent of the consumer.”  AT&T’s sentiments were echoed by the American Cable Association and by rural broadband association NTCA, which urged the FCC to “utilize its Section 706 authority to apply a reciprocal ‘no blocking’ rule to preclude both retail broadband Internet access providers and so-called ‘content’ or ‘edge’ providers from denying basic consumer access to content, applications,or services  that are otherwise available on the Internet.”  Asserting,“there is no evidence whatsoever that new rules are needed,” CenturyLink advised the FCC to rely upon its “established ability to conduct ex post review of any concerning broadband service provider practices as an alternative to more onerous ex ante  rules.”  Along a similar vein,Frontier Communications warned that proposals to reclassify broadband under Title II “would divert investment away from deployment, upgrades and maintenance of broadband services to the detriment of consumers.” However, in contrast to other parties that advocated FCC oversight pursuant to Section 706, Vonage told the FCC that “the best course of action now is to restore . . . policy to its full vigor under Title II.”  Arguing that the FCC has “ample authority to reclassify broadband connectivity as a separate offer of telecommunications service apart from the information service offered by ISPs,” Vonage lamented that the level of competition anticipated by the agency in previous broadband classification proceedings “has never materialized” and that “concentration in broadband markets, both wired and wireless, is only increasing.”