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Friday wrap: a video Q&A session on tech policy issues

The status of broadband reclassification and net neutrality at the Federal Communications Commission drew lots of interest from readers. On the one hand, the FCC has said it will move to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service but is also holding talks with major providers to figure out a way to avoid that step. Things are in flux on the issue and it's unlikely that Congress will pass legislation on net neutrality this year. But that shouldn't stop the FCC from pursuing some of its policy goals, particularly related to mobile broadband and spectrum.

One reader asked about the Universal Service Fund and whether there will be a role for the government to assist in the rollout of broadband lines to unserved areas. I didn't get to that question in the edited version of the video, but the answer is yes. Especially if Rep. Rick Boucher's bill passes.

As for the question about the FCC's relevancy, I toss that one back to you readers. Let's hear your thoughts. What is the role of the FCC today, with questions about its jursdication over broadband, a court decision that undermined its indecency rules, and a bill that would scrap its plan to auction airwaves to a commercial partner for public safety.

I couldn't get to another question about intellectual property and how to prevent situations like Motorola's suit against China's Huawei for allegedly stealing their handset technology, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Thanks for heads up. I will put that on my plate.

As for privacy, I think questions about two House bills under consideration amid rising public concern about putting more personal information on the Web deserves a separate post.

Thank you so much for contributing your questions here and by e-mail ( Please continue to do so and we'll repeat next week.

By Cecilia Kang  |  July 23, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Since you asked, I'll take a crack at the FCC relevancy issue. In sum, I think the FCC has too much power. Congress should do more setting of policy directions and let the FCC act more as a traffic cop to implement those policy decisions, manage spectrum usage, respond to interference complaints, etc.

I think there may be a constitutional issue here in that Congress delegates so much power to administrative agencies such as the FCC that one gets too much executive, judicial, and legislative power, if you will, in one agency. The FCC kind of does all three, to an extent. Of course, there are still checks in the courts and Congress but I think as a day to day matter the FCC operates in an unconstitutional manner violating the separation of powers envisioned by our founders.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 23, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I would also like to know the status of U.S. patent law reform. Seems a couple of years ago there was such an initiative intended to reduce some of the nonsense, but I don't hear much about it now.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 23, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I have little faith in the broadband-oligopolies to regulate themselves, and also be net neutral. Without the FCC, I could envision paying $100 for a 8/2mb connection, and packets never leaving the Comcast network.(am a comcast cust)

Posted by: Hattrik | July 23, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

we need more phone company regulations. One reason for that is they continually bypass some areas. I have been waiting ten years for reliable, affordable broadband, (not satelite) and the phone company still tells me they have no plans to do it. Cell phone coverage here is also not reliable and the plans I looked at, like satelite , have very small download limits. How are we supposed to operate in an internet world economy without broadband?

Posted by: jimbobkalina | July 25, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

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