Internet authority of FCC in question; opponents of regulation speak up
As the Federal Communications Commission putters way at a full plate of issues related to broadband Internet services, the question being asked by analysts, lobbyists and public interest groups is whether the agency will make a move to more clearly stake a claim on those services. Pressure is growing, but with little new insight into the thinking of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the industry is becoming more vocal in its opposition.
The cable industry’s top lobbyist, Kyle McSlarrow, wrote a letter (pdf) to Genachowski on Monday, reiterating that a move to reclassify broadband as a Title II common carriage service is a bad idea. Besides, he said, the FCC can achieve at least one of its goals without doing so: retooling a phone subsidy program for educational purposes to also include broadband.
“We believe it is unnecessary for the Commission to risk the adverse consequences of imposing Title II regulation on broadband Internet access service in order to promote the use of broadband for education,” wrote McSlarrow, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. He then launched into a analysis of telecom law that he thinks gives the agency authority to reform that program without a reclassification.
McSlarrow’s comments follow a letter last week by the major Internet service providers, AT&T, Verizon, NCTA and others, who urged Genachowski against reclassification even as a court has cast into doubt the agency’s authority over broadband services.
The problem, according to analysts, is that such a move could turn investors cold on Internet service providers who would enter a more heavily regulated framework under the FCC. But those same companies and investors also want to see policies succeed, such as the reform of the Universal Service Fund, which public interest groups and analysts say would be jeopardy if the FCC doesn’t reclassify broadband services.
March 1, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories: AT&T , Broadband , FCC , Verizon , comcast
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