Republican Legislators Continue Efforts To Slow Net Neutrality Regs

Calling for a "market analysis" before proposing any network neutrality regulations
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Republican legislators continued their campaign Monday to put the brakes on network neutrality regs.

In the latest missive from Republicans concerned about codifying and expanding FCC network openness guidelines, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), the ranking member on the House Communications Subcommittee joined by a dozen and a half House Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans wrote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Monday calling for a "market analysis" before proposing any network neutrality regulations.

That would require delaying an Oct. 22 proposal already penciled onto the FCC's public meeting agenda since that proposal is to expand and codify the guidelines.

They want the FCC to identify specific practices they believe warrant "regulatory intervention," saying that the possibility of discrimination should not be a sufficient trigger.

The Republicans said such an analysis should be part of a notice of inquiry that should precede any rule proposals. He also suggests the FCC should wait until it has completed mapping of broadband availability and has "seen the results of the stimulus plan," which would mean a lengthy delay, since all of the stimulus package broadband grant/loan money won't even be handed out until a year or so from now.

“The FCC bears the responsibility to prove a market failure," they wrote, according to a copy of the letter supplied by Stearns' office, "especially since its 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007 decisions on cable modem service, digital subscriber line service, broadband over power line service, and wireless broadband service were predicated on the notion that the broadband market nationwide is competitive and that regulation is unwarranted.” Those decisions were all under Republican chairmen.

Saying the chairman had explained "the circumstances surrounding" his announcement of the proposal (in a speech to the Brookings Institution two weeks ago), Stearns also praised him for a pledge of transparency and bipartisanship, two of the regular avowed themes of the Genachowski commission, and for letting facts lead conclusions.

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“The latest House Republican letter asking for the FCC to slow action on preserving an open, non-discriminatory Internet is simply another attempt at a delaying tactic by those who favor big telecom and cable companies over competition and innovation."

The Monday letter follows one last week to President Obama from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Republican whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), aking the president to back off his support of the FCC announcement.

That is unlikely given the president's long-standing support for network neutrality legislation.

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