Lawmakers call on FCC to assert authority over broadband networks
Key lawmakers on Wednesday urged the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to find a way to clearly assert the agency's authority over broadband Internet networks, amid concerns that the agency's ability to oversee that technology has been weakened.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski calling for him to "consider all viable options." That would include a reclassification of broadband services as a telecommunications common carrier service, they said.
"This includes a change of classification, provided that doing so entails a light regulatory touch, with appropriate use of forbearance authority," the lawmakers wrote. Opponents of such a move have said reclassification of broadband would attach cumbersome rules to the thriving Internet network industry.
The FCC could strip, or forbear, some of those rules for broadband service providers. Rockefeller and Waxman added that they would help grant greater regulatory oversight to the FCC if needed.
"In the long term, if there is a need to rewrite the law to provide consumers, the commission and industry with a new framework for telecommunications policy, we are committed as committee chairmen in doing so," they said. Rockefeller and Waxman are chairmen of the Senate and House commerce committees, respectively.
The letters come as grass-roots Internet groups have flooded the White House and FCC with similar calls for Genachowski to reclassify broadband. In Monday's story, it appeared that Genachowski was leaning toward keeping broadband services deregulated, which public interest groups fear would jeopardize the FCC's ability to move forward on a net neutrality policy and other broadband objectives.
May 5, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
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