FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the FCC conducted
economic analysis on net neutrality rules--citing a number of graphs in the order--and
said he is keeping the Title II docket open because it is "an open, public
process" launched less than a year ago "to consider the adequacy
of the current legal framework within which the Commission promotes investment
and innovation in, and protects consumes of, broadband Internet
service," and does so "without proposing any particular agency
That came in a response to House Communications Subcommittee
Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
In a March 3 letter, Upton and House Communications Subcommittee
Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) asked the chairman to "demonstrate the FCC's
actions will not harm our economy or ability to innovate." In addition to
that analysis, the congressmen are looking for an answer on whether the FCC
will close its open proceeding on classifying broadband as a Title II
They had asked for written responses from the chairman to a
number of questions following the Feb. 16 house Communications Subcommittee oversight hearing
with all five commissioners, specifically on what economic analysis had been
behind the Dec. 21 decision--on a straight Democratic party line vote--to
expand and codify network neutrality rules. They also wanted to know why, if
the FCC had concluded it was not going to classify Internet access service as a
Title II telecommunications subject to some mandatory access regs, why it had
not closed the docket that proposed that modified Title II approach--among
other possible scenarios, including doing nothing and imposing all Title II
According to a copy of the chairman's reply, dated March 7,
a market analysis was "an integral part of the Commission's effort to develop
an open Internet policy..." The result, he maintained, had been a
"light-touch" approach. He said the order also weighed the costs
and benefits of the rules, and included input from Google. Facebook, Amazon,
eBay and others that "the Internet's openness is a critical component
of its contribution to economic growth."
Those opposed to codifying the rules have also argued they
are for openness, but say marketplace forces are a sufficient governor.
Genachowski also argued that one of the keys to the
order was ensuring small businesses can have open access to the 'net to create jobs
and innovate and compete.
The chairman said that one of the reasons the docket containing the Title II reclassification option, as well as others, remains open is to collect info that could be useful to Congress as a resource for updating the Communications Act, "as many in Congress and the private sector have suggested is needed.
Upton and other Republican leaders have said they were
unsatisfied with the FCC's explanations behind the rule to date, and have scheduled
a markup Wednesday on a resolution to invalidate the rules. That will follow a
same-day legislative hearing on the substance of the resolution, which is
essentially a one-paragraph statement that the regs will have no force.
That hearing was a nod to the Democratic leaders of the
committee, who asked for a substantive hearing before the markup.
They have also criticized the use of the resolution, which
is a fast-track route to killing the new regs. But Republicans, in a e-mail
entitled "Fact Check," pointed out Monday that Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is on the record as saying such resolutions are a
"reasonable, sensible approach to regulatory reform." In fact, one
fan of strong net neutrality regs, former Sen. Byron Dorgan, tried to use a
resolution to block FCC implementation of the 1997 the media ownership rule
A House Energy & Commerce Committee spokesperson said
the chairman was reviewing the letter and was expected to respond by day's end.