Federal Communications Commission

Live Blogging the June Open Commission Meeting

June 17th, 2010 by George Krebs

10:30am ET
We've created a handy FAQ for questions about the broadband framework discussed today or for more background. In opening the meeting, Chairman Genachowski welcomes a delegation from Pakistan and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s mother, Emily Clyburn.

10:44am ET
There is but one item on today’s agenda. Today we will hear a presentation on the legal framework surrounding broadband. To start Deputy Counsel Julie Veach of the Office of the General Counsel gives the history of the steps the Commission has taken toward protecting the sanctity of the Internet and protecting consumers. This timeline is dotted with benchmark events; such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, AT&T v. City of Portland (9th Circuit), and NCTA v. Brand X Internet Services (Supreme Court). An overview of Comcast v. FCC is given.

10:55am ET
The office then lays out the options between Title I and Title II. There are drawbacks to both that don’t fully cover the intricacy of the Internet. The panelists then introduce the third way. As the general counsel note, this route is “modeled on successful ‘Regulatory Treatment of Mobile Services.’” Internet would be classified as an information service but this option would forbear on a nationwide basis from all but a small number of core Title II provisions.

A number of questions will inevitably arise. One such question is, “How should the Commission treat wireless broadband Internet services?
11:14am ET

The Commission was on shaky ground prior to the Comcast decision, Commissioner Copps declares. “We need to reclaim our authority.” Commissioner Copps likens this path forward to protecting the Internet onramp. “We are not talking, even remotely, about regulating the Internet. It’s about making sure consumers have maxim control over the having access to the Internet.”

11:24am ET
Commissioner McDowell speaks next. He qualifies his comments by noting that ninety percent of the Commission’s work is bipartisan and unanimous. This proceeding, however, falls under the ten percent upon which there is disagreement. The Commission is seeking to apply19th century railroad regulation to a 21st century technology, he argues. His presentation features supporting statements and quotes from news publications and members of congress. While the proposal is well intentioned, “This may have the unintended consequence of stunting growth.”

11:35am ET
Commissioner Clyburn jumps right in and censures industry for overstating the dangers posed by the new framework. They view any government regulation as an imposition, she says. “If it were up to big business, the FCC would never get the opinion of consumers.” The Commissioner supports the proposal and advocates for regulation that keeps consumers as our most important constituency.
11:40am ET
In her remarks Commissioner Baker dissents. “We won't have clear legal jurisdiction on broadband unless Congress gives it to us,” she says. Little attention has been paid to the statistics. She points to ninety-one percent of Americans who are happy with their Broadband access. “Reclassifying an entire segment of the Internet is not necessary.”
11:53am ET
As the last speaker, Chairman Genachoswki addresses several angles and concerns that have arisen out of the question on the proper broadband framework. The FCC’s processes are complementary to the congressional effort to update the Communications Act, he says. We need to ensure the Commission stands on solid legal ground as we consider how to approach the broadband framework. “We do so today in an open and balanced way.” While industry would prefer being unchecked, “A system of checks and balances in the telecommunications sector has served our country well for decades and decades and has spurred trillions of dollars in investment.”
The Commission's work has determined that the third way approach is the best way forward. That said the Chairman emphasizes, “I remain open minded and welcome the process of new ideas.” Robust debate produces the best outcomes.
In conclusion, the Chairman takes a vote. He, Commissioner Copps, and Commissioner Clyburn vote in favor of the measure; Commissioner McDowell and Commission Baker dissent. The ayes have it.

3 Responses to “Live Blogging the June Open Commission Meeting”

  1. Guest says:

    They won't cut their investments. Same tired argument used over and over anytime government regulation creeps into an industry. New York Law School is most certainly partisan, and their report is probably bought and paid for by the industry that seeks to avoid the regulation.

  2. Guest says:

    I think the FCC needs to carefully consider the potential effect on the fragile U.S. economy before taking hasty action with their regulative efforts. The below quote came from a recent businessweek article.

    "Proposed regulation of high-speed Internet service providers by the U.S. government could cost the economy at least $62 billion annually over the next five years and eliminate 502,000 jobs, according to a study released by New York Law School.
    The report estimates that broadband providers and related industries may cut their investments by 10 percent to 30 percent from 2010 to 2015 in response to additional regulation. At 30 percent, the economy might sustain an $80 billion hit, according to Charles Davidson, director of the law school's Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, which released the report on June 16."

  3. Thomas says:

    Live Blog? Guess not.

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