Washington

Stearns Wants Answers on Cost of FCC Broadband Plan

Congressman says it sounds like report reiterates existing data 3/12/2010 02:56:34 PM Eastern

A top Republican has fired off a letter to the FCC wondering
how much it spent on a broadband plan he says sounds like it reiterates
existing evidence that the vast majority of people have broadband, and
two-thirds take it.

Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), ranking Republican on the House
Communications Subcommittee, wrote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that, from
what he has been hearing, the plan illustrates "the success of the
national broadband plan we already have."

He said that given that top FCC broadband advisor Blair
Levin had said that broadband "is primarily a function of private
investment," with which Stearns heartily agrees, he expected the plan to
be "rooted" in such observations.

He also warned the FCC that he hopes the national broadband
plan is not "littered with hidden agendas" such as "placeholders
for network neutrality, old-style, Title II common-carrier regulations, or the
type of spectrum conditions advocated by M2Z and others in the past that have
hobbled auctions."

The plan is expected to reference network neutrality, but
leave the heavy lifting for the currently open proceeding on codifying and
expanding the FCC's Internet openness principles.  Some, including John Muleta, CEO of M2Z
Networks, are interpreting the FCC's announcement this week that it was
considering using spectrum for a free or low-cost broadband service to mean it
may put such conditions on bidders for the 500 MHz of spectrum it proposes
freeing up for wireless broadband.

Given what he said should be a free-market-focused report,
Stearns said he could not help wondering how much the FCC spent to come up with
its conclusion and how many people it took.

He also wanted to know why the Feb. 17 deadline was moved
back to March 17, what was done during that time, and the answers to a number
of other questions, including how soon an electronic, searchable version of the
document will be available for perusal by

congressional staffers and the public.

March