Thursday, April 15, 2010

FCC gains backing for future broadband regulation

The FT (Rockefeller backs FCC broadband regulation) reports that Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has urged the FCC to use “all of its existing authority” to regulate broadband internet providers. He also said he was prepared to rewrite legislation to accomplish that goal.

At he same time, he also offered some criticism of the FCC's National Broadband Plan:
“A mere menu of options for the FCC and the Congress with far off timeframes is not good enough...The report has over 200 recommendations. But it takes no action. It is long on vision but short on tactics...I am going to challenge the FCC to make the hard choices that will help bring broadband to every corner of this country. Putting ideas on paper is not enough. Just seeking comment on a slew of issues is not enough. It’s action that counts...In this new century, universal broadband service is the promise of a fair shot at economic opportunity. It is the promise of educational equality and affordable health care. And it opens the door to participate in our democratic dialogue with dignity, no matter who you are or where you live. ”
The remarks were made as part of a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on 14th April, at which FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made this statement. He remained bullish about the FCC's capability to implement the plan following the Comcast case:
“...I am confident that the Commission has the authority it needs to implement the broadband plan. Whatever flaws may have existed in the specific actions and reasoning before the court in that case, I believe that the Communications Act – as amended in 1996 – enables the Commission to, for example, reform universal service to connect everyone to broadband communications, including in rural areas and Native American communities; help connect schools and rural health clinics to broadband; take steps to ensure that we lead the world in mobile; promote competition; support robust use of broadband by small businesses to drive productivity, growth, job creation and ongoing innovation; protect and empower all consumers of broadband communications, including thorough transparency and disclosure to help make the market work; safeguard consumer privacy; work to increase broadband adoption in all communities and ensure fair access for people with disabilities; help protect broadband communications networks against cyber attack and other disasters; and ensure that all broadband users can reach 911 in an emergency.”

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