GOP House members urge FCC to conduct analysis on net neutrality

A group of House Republicans has asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to conduct a rigorous market analysis before imposing net neutrality regulations on the telecommunications industry.

In a letter spearheaded by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, the House members told the FCC that this was an opportunity for the agency to demonstrate its commitment to making pragmatic, data-driven decisions. The FCC, refreshed under the Obama administration, has promised to approach policy with those principles in mind.

"The FCC bears the responsibility to prove a market failure, 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," the letter said. "If after this analysis you conclude that intervention is necessary, the intervention should be tailored to your analysis and should be the minimum required to prevent the practices you have identified as appropriate targets of regulation."

Genachowski's proposal to turn net neutrality principles into hard-and-fast regulations has drawn support from Democrats and consumer rights advocates, skepticism from many Republicans and strong disapproval from some quarters of the wireless industry, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has said he supports Genachowski's push, but was hesitant on whether the rules should apply to wireless networks. The FCC will take up the matter at its next monthly meeting Oct. 22.

In the letter, the Republicans also wrote that net neutrality rules would make it harder for companies to invest in expanding broadband, something that was disputed by the consumer rights group 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," Gigi Sohn, the group's president, said in a statement. 

An FCC spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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