House Hearing Set on Internet Freedom Preservation Act

House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee to Hold Hearing May 6

The House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee will hold a hearing May 6 on the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (HR 5353), which could put some more teeth in the Federal Communications Commission's guidelines on network nondiscrimination, the issue that prompted the network-neutrality and, more recently, network-management debates.

The bill was introduced by Subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in February in the wake of various complaints against cable operators and telephone companies for their network-management practices. The result has been more hearings, on the Hill and at the FCC, on an issue that dominated telecommunications debate in the last Congress.

The FCC is currently investigating complaints about broadband-network management against Comcast and Verizon Communications, and it opened a general inquiry into network-management practices.

The Markey bill would essentially enshrine the FCC's four network-nondiscrimination principles into law, although in language general enough to be open to regulatory discretion. It would also direct the FCC to assess the state of access to broadband services, including via a series of summits with plenty of prior public notice.

The FCC already held two field hearings on Internet management.

Witnesses at the May 6 hearing will include National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow, Free Press policy director Ben Scott, USTelecom president Walter McCormick and Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America.