On the eve of Wednesday's (Apr. 14) Senate Commerce
Committee oversight hearing on the FCC's national broadband plan, committee
member and Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) has called on
readers of the Daily
Kos and Huffington Post blogs to contact their senators in support of
Senators do not usually call for flooding congressional
switchboards, but the network neutrality debate has always been a heated one.
Calling the hearing a "vital" one, Kerry framed
the net neutrality issue as one of powerful cable and phone companies against
consumers and "President Obama's FCC," then asked Web surfers to use the
phone lines against the networks. "It's
helpful to bust wide open the convenient myth many in Washington buy into - the idea that it's
only the industry and those with financial skin in the game who really care
about these issues," he said.
"You could make an enormous difference if you take just
a couple of minutes right now, call your senators and urge them to support the
president's push for net neutrality and a national broadband plan," he
The two issues have been joined by a court decision last
week that called into question the FCC's justification for regulation network
management. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said he still thinks the FCC
has the authority to implement the broadband plan, but the commission will
likely have to connect the dots more clearly in the next several weeks as it
begins to roll out over 60 rulemakings and inquiries to implement the plan.
"The travesty in the court system last week underscored
the importance of you weighing in, and doing it in a hurry," said Kerry.
The senator cast his lot with those urging the FCC to
classify broadband under the more heavily regulated Title II classification for
telecommunications services rather than its current status under the more lightly
regulated Title I information service regime.
"The FCC could reclassify the service and preserve its
traditional role. The telecom companies are giving it everything they've got to
keep this from happening, and if you don't speak up, they could win," he
AT&T execs spent an hour with reporters Tuesday making the
case for why the FCC did not need to use Title II authority over the net to
implement the plan, and arguing that to do so would chill investment and the
broadband deployment that the plan is supposed to be driving. They advised that
it would be better for Congress to step in and clarify just what the FCC's
statutory authority was first.
Kerry was having none of it. "The telecom companies try
to say that only Congress can pass a law to make this better," he said.
"But having suffered through a year of record filibusters and procedural
hurdles to grind the process to a halt, do you really think it's a good idea
for Congress to try and do this, when the FCC can have the authority right
Kerry even supplied a list of the committee members to make
it easier to flood those switchboards.