State Regulators Concerned About FCC Broadband Preemption

Propose "fourth way" approach to reclassifying broadband
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State regulators are looking to propose a "fourth way"
approach to reclassifying broadband that keeps them in the regulatory loop.

FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed a "third way" approach to
classifying broadband transmissions as Title II common carrier services, but
only applying a handful of those regulations. That approach would also preempt
state regulators from applying any regs the FCC was not applying itself.

Members
of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners are preparing
to debate a resolution calling on the FCC to consider a "fourth way"
approach of "bi-jurisdictional regulatory oversight" that
"recognizes the particular expertise of States," including public
safety and broadband mapping.

That is
according to a draft of a resolution being circulated by NARUC that, among
others, will be debated and voted on at NARUC's summer meeting in Sacramento
starting July 18. The draft has to be voted out of committee, and then approved
(or not) by the board, so there could be changes before then.

They
point to the states' current role in broadband data collection per the Commerce
Department stimulus-funding program, and to the national broadband plan's role
for states as reasons to include them in the broadband regulatory framework.

They
describe the bi-jurisdictional approach as one that "allocates state and
federal responsibility over broadband Internet connectivity service and
broadband Internet service based on analysis of the characteristics of each governmental
function exercised," and which level of government is better equipped to
handle it.

They
argue states have particular expertise in "managing front-line consumer
education, protection and services programs; ensuring public safety; ensuring
network service quality and reliability; collecting and mapping broadband
service infrastructure and adoption data; designing and promoting broadband
service availability and adoption programs; and implementing competitively
neutral pole attachment, rights-of-way and tower sitting rules and
programs."

If the
FCC decides to go its own, "third way," they say, it should not
change the state's authority under the Telecommunications Act to "preserve
and advance universal service, protect the public safety and welfare, ensure
the continued quality of telecommunications services, and safeguard the rights
of consumers."

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