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FCC pushes back at increased opposition from broadband providers

The Federal Communications Commission has been fairly quiet in recent weeks as the nation’s biggest broadband providers have called for less power at the agency and less regulation and criticized parts of the FCC’s national broadband plan.

That is, until yesterday, when FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus responded to Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s comments earlier this week when he seemed to disagree that there was a strong need for more spectrum to be used for commercial carriers.

Lazarus called Seidenberg’s comments “baffling” and went on to list at least three times when Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest wireless provider, urged the agency to free up spectrum – as much as 800 megahertz, their trade groups said – to meet the wireless needs of the future. Here’s his blog.

Last night, Verizon spokesman David Fish responded in an e-mail to Lazarus’s comments:

“We reiterate what we said in our filings at the FCC: there is a long-term need for additional spectrum for mobile broadband services. We also support greater reliance on the free market to ensure that 1) unused spectrum can be purchased 2) all spectrum is put to its highest and best use.”

The back and forth come after a sweeping call by Verizon's top lobbyist to put oversight of Internet service providers under Congress and to lessen the FCC's regulatory approach. Those comments were echoed by AT&T. The National Telecommunications and Cable Association has warned the FCC against putting broadband services alongside telephone services -- even as the agency wrestles with what it will do after a federal court decision brought by Comcast cast much of its regulatory agenda going forward in doubt.

A question to you all: How does the market free up spectrum? Isn’t that what the FCC does? Let me know what you think.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 9, 2010; 9:28 AM ET
 
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