FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski defended his proposal to reclassify broadband as a Title II common-carrier service, as he tried to reassure cable industry executives that the commission will not take a heavy-handed approach to regulation.
The decision to reclassify broadband, which Genachowski made earlier this month, has drawn strong resistance from the cable industry, big telcos and the wireless industry. The reclassification is seen as a legal prerequisite for moving forward on net neutrality regulations for wireless and wired networks.
At the Cable Show conference in Los Angeles, Genachowski said reclassifying broadband will give the FCC a new "legal foundation" for pursuing its policy objectives of expanding broadband access. He said the FCC does not want to regulate prices for broadband access or harm any company's ability to invest in its network. Under his proposal, the FCC would "forbear" from, or decide not to impose most of the Title II regulations, but those opposed to the plan said that might be rolled back in the future.
However, Genachowski said that in the 17 years the FCC has been using "forbearance" there has never been a reversal of such a decision. "It has never happened," he said.
The fight over net neutrality has also spilled into Congress. Earlier this week, a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that requires the FCC to submit a detailed market analysis to prove the need for the agency to reclassify broadband. The bill was introduced by Rep. Cliff Stearns, (R-Fla.), who is the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications. However, Genachowski received support from Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), the subcommitee's chairman.
"If broadband providers differ with the approach that the FCC has taken ... our door is open," Boucher said. "We would be pleased to discuss with broadband providers, and with the proponents of network neutrality, the creation of a targeted set of principles to ensure network openness."
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