- On February 16, 2011, the House Communications Subcommittee conducted a hearing titled “Network Neutrality and Internet Regulation: Warranted or More Harm than Good?” All FCC members appeared and provided testimony. The hearing was predictably contentious, with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., stating in his opening remarks that that FCC’s estimation of its own jurisdiction “is bounded only by its imagination,” but that he is “relieved … that the FCC declined under its new found authority to regulate coffee shops, bookstores, airlines and other entities.” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., Chair of the full Commerce Committee, remarked that the FCC “seems to be advancing a policy agenda of its own – often, by twisting the arms of those who come before it.” The pervading theme from Republican members was that the FCC is taking action where none is needed. Chairman Genachowski provided a contrary view, stating in prepared testimony that the FCC “listened” to the industry, and “learned” that the ability and willingness of companies to invest in Internet services and facilities depends on the FCC adopting “high-level rules of the road.” Commissioner Copps bolstered those remarks by stating that the FCC must “fight discrimination against ideas, content and technologies,” and that such action “is not about government regulating the Internet.”
The written remarks of Reps. Walden and Upton are available here.
Chairman Genachowski’s written testimony is available here.
Commissioner Copps’s testimony is available here.
- Both the House and the Senate have introduced Resolutions of Disapproval seeking to invalidate the FCC’s Open Internet Order under the Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. Sections 801-808. Each chamber has 60 legislative days to pass the measure by simple majority. To view the House resolution, click here. To view the Senate resolution, click here.
- Also on February 16, the full Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing titled “Safeguarding Our Future: Building a Nationwide Network for First Responders.” Witnesses included Rep. Peter King, R-NY, Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Raymond Kelly, Police Commissioner of New York City. Commissioner Kelly testified that “our existing communications systems are fast becoming obsolete,” and that “a 16-year old with a smart phone has a more advanced communications capability” than the police have. In his opening remarks, Rep. John “Jay” Rockefeller IV, Committee Chair, highlighted his proposed legislation, S. 28, the Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, as a means for improving the state of technology for the police and other first responders. Introduced on January 25, 2011, this bill would allocate the 700 MHz D Block for public safety, allow the use of narrowband spectrum for public safety, and establish a Public Safety Interoperable Broadband Network Construction Fund of up to $2 Billion from general Treasury funds.
More information about the hearing is available here.
To view Sen. Rockefeller’s bill, click here.