Arguing that the 1996 Telecommunications Act is ill equipped to address issues associated with today’s broadband service market,
former FCC Chairman Michael Powell told an audience at an Internet policy event on Monday that Congress should consider rewriting
the 1996 Act, as “the statute is broken when applied to . . . new spaces.” At the event, sponsored by the Internet Innovation Alliance,
Powell also offered a cautious endorsement of the draft order, unveiled by current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, that would
prohibit blockage of lawful content on broadband networks while continuing to assess broadband under Title I. Powell termed the Title
II approach championed earlier by Genachowski as “fatally flawed.” While acknowledging that “there is universal support on the
fundamental idea of an open Internet,” Powell voiced skepticism that “the case has been persuasively made” for regulatory invention
under Title II in view of what he described as the absence of large-scale competitive failures in the Internet access marketplace. Powell
also noted that any Internet rules adopted by the FCC—like the 1996 Telecom Act—could quickly become outdated. Recalling that
America Online and long distance service firms stood at the top of the industry when he assumed the FCC chairmanship a decade ago,
Powell quipped, “where are those companies now?”.