Congress Warns FCC Against Broadband Reclassification
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski's plan to impose net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service is meeting with resistance from some lawmakers.
This week, 74 Democrats in the House sent a letter to Genachowski warning against reclassification. "The uncertainty this proposal creates will jeopardize jobs and deter needed investment for years to come," they write.
The Congress members also say that controversy caused by an FCC assertion of authority over broadband "will likely serve as a distraction" from expanding the availability and adoption of broadband.
Thirty-seven Republican senators this week also asked Genachowski to rethink his plan to impose neutrality rules on broadband providers. "Turning 21st Century broadband networks into "dumb pipes" is not what will draw investment to grow jobs in the communications sector and bring high-speed broadband to every home in America," the senators wrote.
"You have previously indicated that you would rely on fact-based analysis for future rulemakings," they added. "However, in your effort to reclassify broadband services as telecommunications services, you appear to be solely relying on the unsubstantiated fear that broadband service providers may harm consumers at some future date."
Last year, Genachowski officially proposed enacting neutrality rules that would ban providers from discriminating against particular sites or applications by either degrading or prioritizing traffic. Since then, however, a federal appellate court has said that the FCC doesn't have the authority to impose neutrality rules because broadband is classified as an "information" service.
That decision spurred Genachowski to propose reclassifying broadband transmission as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, but forbearing from terms "that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service." The move would largely require broadband providers to follow the same common carrier rules that govern telephone companies.