Reaction to FCC's latest steps on broadband
The FCC's move Thursday morning to regain authority over broadband is getting more reaction from both sides.
AT&T quickly released a statement arguing the FCC is misguided.
"This is impossible to justify on either a policy or legal basis, and we remain confident that if the FCC persists in its course—and we truly hope it does not—the courts will surely overturn their action," said AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs, Jim Cicconi.
The country's biggest ISPs, including AT&T and Comcast, are worried that if the FCC regains authority over broadband, it will continue its march to impose rules about 'net neutrality,' the concept that phone and cable companies should treat all web content equally, rather than collect fees to deliver some sites faster than others.
Comcast was more measured in its response. "While we remain concerned about unjustified regulation, we are encouraged that the careful balancing the Chairman promised in his public statements since first announcing a 'Third Way' has led to a rational next step as all stakeholders continue to work together to keep the Internet ecosystem growing and open," said Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen.
Some critics say the fundamental problem is that Congress desperately needs to update the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
"It's time to put an end to improvised Internet policy," said Richard Bennett, senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. "We appreciate the FCC's heroic efforts to devise a United States policy for the broadband Internet in the absence of a clear statement from Congress in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, but the time has come for Congress to step in and provide the agency with guidance."
There's support among Democrats and Republicans for Congress to clarify the FCC's powers, but the agency's supporters say the FCC has no choice but to act now. The route through Capitol Hill, they argue, will take too long.
"The FCC has to do this quickly because as it is, consumers aren't protected and there's no time for dilly-dallying," said Gigi Sohn, president of media public interest group Public Knowledge. "Stretching it out won't do anybody any favors. It just allows the opposition to keep shooting at [Genachowski]."
--Jia Lynn Yang
Jia Lynn Yang
June 17, 2010; 3:03 PM ET
Categories: AT&T , Comcast , FCC , Net Neutrality
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