Senate Republicans criticized FCC Democrats Oct. 13 over proposed
guidelines on network openness that they suggest are partisan, unsupported by
data and could adversely impact broadband speeds and deployment.
Eighteen Republican Senators--led by Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
and including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)--wrote to FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski saying that his proposal to codify and expand
network-openness guidelines and apply them to wireless broadband appears to be
"outcome driven." The charge is a direct challenge to the chairman's
avowed policy of letting data drive decisions.
The senators said the chairman's rules "seem to emanate
from a fear that there may be some problems related to openness 'in the
future," and counter that it would be burdensome and chilling to the
private-sector investment they say has been driving choice and competition.
"Such a major policy shift should be contemplated only
with all of the FCC Commissioners involved," the letter reads. "To do it with
just one party reduces the confidence the public and the Congress has in the
Genachowksi has the backing of his two fellow Democrats and
thus the votes to pass the proposed rules, which he plans to introduce at next
week's public meeting.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), ranking member of the
Commerce Committee, which oversees communications issues, did not sign on to
the letter. But sources say that is because she is working on her own,
individual letter that spells out her individual concerns. That letter could be
released as early as today.
Senate Republicans have been concerned ever since the chairman
announced the proposal at a Brookings Institution speech, including
threatening to pass a bill, proposed by Hutchison, to block
FCC funding for any new network neutrality rules. But they held off on that
legislative gambit after the chairman reached out to them, according to sources
on both sides.
House Republicans have also been active on the issue,
the FCC to first conduct a market analysis before taking any action.