A number of powerful lawmakers voiced their support for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to institute net neutrality principles on wireless and wireline networks, potentially setting the stage for a high-stakes battle between FCC and Congressional leaders and wireless industry lobbyists.
Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), are considering introducing legislation that could lend support to Genachowski's effort. Dorgan, a senior member of the Commerce Committee, said in an interview with the Washington Post that the bill could function as a timetable for the FCC to finalize its rule-making on the proposed regulations.
"I personally believe the FCC has the authority to do what the [FCC] chairman intends to do, but others might disagree with that," he said. "I think the question is if there is a way for us to be helpful as the chairman moves forward. I think we would want to introduce legislation to help the goal."
Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), said he supported Genachowski's push, but also had been consulting with service providers to try and find a middle ground. In an interview with The Hill, Boucher, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications, technology and the Internet, said he thought that 4G networks could be subjected to net neutrality rules.
"With the fourth generation--the WiMAX application from Sprint [Nextel] and LTE application that other major carriers will soon be deploying--it is now possible to have the same kinds of rules for the wireless infrastructure that exist for the wired infrastructure," he said. However, Boucher also said that exceptions should be made for spectrum limitations.
"That limitation needs to be reflected in whatever legislation that comes forward," he said. "Wireless needs to be part of the solution, but giving due regard to the very early generation of service. Maybe you don't have rigid requirements apply to that."
Meanwhile, the wireless industry is ratcheting up its lobbying effort in the wake of the push for net neutrality rules. CTIA has been stepping up its efforts to put the industry in the best possible light.
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