Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that he was concerned
that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski might be planning to put the
reclassification of broadband access under Title II regulations on the
FCC's September meeting agenda, and asked House Energy & Commerce
Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to advise the chairman not to do so.
At an Energy & Commerce markup hearing Wednesday on various
bills, Stearns, ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, said
that he understood reclassification might be on the Sept. 16 meeting agenda.
"I hope that does not take place," he said. He argued that it would
provide little time for the FCC to consider the comments it had solicited on the
proposal (replies are due in mid-August). He also said Hill discussions
suggested that there was a way to have a targeted legislative solution.
It would also provide Congress little time to ponder that move
since it will only have just returned from its August recess.
Stearns asked Waxman to "consult" with Genachowski
and ask him to delay consideration until at least October. Waxman did not respond.
FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, for one, has
said she expected the FCC to take up reclassification, which she has major
concerns about, in early fall or even late summer, "while the leaves
are still on the trees."
At the same hearing, Energy & Commerce ranking member Joe
Barton (R-Tex.) echoed his criticisms of the FCC's release of a report finding
that broadband was not being deployed in the U.S. on a reasonable and timely
basis. Barton said that the FCC seemed to have been ignoring marketplace
successes. He said saying the private sector can't blanket every inch of the
country with broadband is one thing, but that implying that the sector was
"stalled," and that "only taxpayers' money" can jump-start
the process was "simply deceptive."
The FCC said Tuesday that the report's findings underscored the
need to find new spectrum for wireless broadband and spur infrastructure