Bill would require FCC report before reclassifying broadband

Grant Gross

IDG News Service – A Florida congressman has introduced legislation to require the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to deliver a detailed cost-benefit analysis to Congress before moving forward with a plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated common-carrier service.

The bill, authored by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), would also require the FCC to conduct a market study to show “market failure” in the broadband industry before moving forward with the plan to reclassify broadband.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan to reclassify broadband as a regulated service is a mistake, Stearns said at a press conference Tuesday organized by Americans for Prosperity, an antiregulation advocacy group. The effort will hurt the FCC’s goal of making broadband available to all U.S. residents, he said.

“I think this is a partisan move by him to regulate the Internet,” Stearns said. “This curious step by Chairman Genachowski would reverse course and … do an end run around Congress, where this issue should and must be debated first.”

Genachowski, a Democrat, announced last week that he would launch a proceeding to reclassify broadband from a largely unregulated information service to a regulated common-carrier service in response to an appeals court ruling last month saying that the agency did not have the authority to enforce informal network neutrality rules. Comcast, which had slowed some peer-to-peer traffic in the name of network management, challenged the FCC’s authority to enforce the informal rules in place since 2005.

The reclassification of broadband is needed for the FCC to pass formal net neutrality rules and to implement parts of its national broadband plan, released in March, Genachowski said.

At the same time that the FCC reclassifies broadband as a regulated service, the FCC would move to exempt broadband from most traditional telecom regulations under Genachowski’s plan.

Stearns, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee, said that the Internet Investment, Innovation and Competition Preservation Act would require the FCC to “prove” there is market failure in the broadband industry before reclassifying broadband, then go to Congress for approval.

The article continues at Computerworld.

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