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Thursday, December 23, 2010

FCC Preparing To Act On "Net Neutrality" Issue

FCC Moving On The Issue Of Net Neutrality

Hang onto your hats Internet lovers. Your Internet experience is about to change. The Federal Communications Commission has decided to move forward with plans to regulate the Internet and to reclassify Internet broadband services as Telecommunications in nature. Meaning, the FCC plans to employ and enforce the laws, rules, restrictions and requirements created in the Telecommunications Act of 1934 to Internet broadband service. This my friends could signal a major change in how we obtain, use and enjoy the Internet experience going forward. Don't know about you, but, I treasure the free enterprise system. If you enable entrepreneurs to do their thing wonderful things can happen. If you regulate the Internet, you clearly run the risk of potentially stiffling free enterprise and jeopardize future invention and technology development.

Thought I would share some information I received from Senator Johnny Isakson's office about the issue of "Net Neutrality." As you can see Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson has been steadfastly trying to fend off this unnecessary and truly bad piece or regulation by the FCC. Unfortunately, FCC commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, has decided to go forward with implementation of his plan to reclassify broadband Internet Services as Telecommunications. The gest of "Net Neutrality" is the FCC would begin regulating the Internet, using Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. A law enacted 76 years ago to regulate the emerging Telecommunications industry.

In our humble opinion, the FCC should not be regulating the Internet, nor should they decide what content we access, nor should they have a say in who we buy our Internet Broadband service from. We simply don't agree that the Internet is a Telecommunications service! For the FCC to treat it as such, and to regulate it using Title II of the Communications Act regulations, originally created in 1934, is somewhat ridiculous. We encourage you to let the honorable FCC chairman hear your thoughts. Our thanks go out to Senator Isakson and other Senators and legislators who are fighting hard against the "Net Neutrality" FCC ruling.

Letter From Senator Isakson

Dear Mr. Lein:
You have previously written in to my office regarding net neutrality and I wanted to provide you with an update.
Earlier today Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski decided to move forward with the implementation of net neutrality rules. I am extremely disappointed with the Chairman's decision, and I believe these unnecessary regulations will stifle innovation and be harmful to consumers.

Earlier this month I joined 29 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Chairman Genachowski to express my great disappointment in his recent decision to move forward with implementing net neutrality rules. Last week I also signed on as a co-sponsor to an amendment filed by Senator Hutchinson (R-TX to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from regulating the Internet. The amendment specifically would have prohibited the FCC from using any appropriated funds "to adopt, implement, or otherwise litigate any network neutrality based rules, protocols, or standards." The amendment was also cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), John Thune (R-S.D), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

In May of this year I joined more than two dozen of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Chairman Genachowski to express my great disappointment in his desire to classify broadband internet services as telecommunications services subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This classification will give the FCC regulatory authority over the internet and access to its content.

During a hearing on the National Broadband Plan earlier this Congress I questioned Chairman Genachowski on his intentions to reclassify and regulate the internet, and expressed to him my great concern with further regulation.
As we move into the next Congress I will work with my colleagues to block these harmful regulations.

Please find below a copy of the letters sent to Chairman Genachowski

December 15, 2010

Dear Chairman Genachowski:

You recently announced your intent to have the Federal Communications Commission impose new regulations on broadband access services at the Commission's meeting later this month. We write today to express our continued opposition to any so-called "Open Internet" rules. The Internet as an open platform for innovation is not an aspiration, it is a reality?"the United States does not need new burdensome regulations to make it so. This is an unjustified and unnecessary expansion of government control over private enterprise. We strongly urge you to abandon your decision to impose new restrictions on this important and dynamic segment of our economy.
Last year when you began the Open Internet rulemaking you promised that the process would be "transparent, fact-based, and data-driven," yet the Commission to date has provided scant evidence to justify the need for your proposed intrusion into the broadband marketplace. Consumers today use and have access to more Internet services than ever before. Even during this economic downturn, tens of billions of dollars have been invested in new broadband infrastructure. Every day, Internet entrepreneurs offer new services, applications, devices, and content to users of broadband Internet networks. There is no evidence of the sort of market failure in broadband that might require expansive new powers for the Commission.

While the rules that you are proposing will have little, if any, positive impact for consumers, they will likely reduce the potential for innovation and investment in broadband networks. Your proposal would establish the Commission as the central arbiter of which new network practices are and are not reasonable, making the Commission the gatekeeper for any future broadband innovations. This will dramatically slow the pace of that innovation and jeopardize billions of dollars of future investment into broadband networks.

You and the Commission's general counsel have admitted in published statements that the legal justification for imposing these new regulations is questionable and "has a serious risk of failure in court." That is absolutely right, because it is very clear that Congress has not granted the Commission the specific statutory authority to do what you are proposing. Whether and how the Internet should be regulated is something that America's elected representatives in Congress, not the Commission, should determine.

The Internet has flourished over the last twenty years because of, not despite, a lack of government control and involvement. If the Commission does adopt your plan to impose new regulations on the Internet, the cost of that action will be measured in investments forgone, innovations stifled, and most importantly, jobs lost. With America's economy in such a fragile state, the last thing the government needs to do is burden the private sector with more ill-advised regulatory red tape. Again, we implore you to reconsider your decision to regulate broadband services.

May 10, 2010

The Honorable Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Genachowski:

We are deeply disappointed by your recent announcement that you intend to reclassify broadband Internet access services as telecommunications services subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This move will deter further private sector investment in broadband networks, will negatively impact innovation, and ultimately harm consumers. We strongly encourage you to abandon this drastic action, and to continue the successful policy of leaving the Internet free from common carrier regulations.

We reject your assertion that this so-called "third-way" is a reasonable consensus approach to protect consumers and increase broadband penetration. The reality is that what you are seeking is a major shift in FCC policy that is highly controversial and has been previously rejected by Congress and both Democratic and Republican administrations. Imposing burdensome Title II regulations on broadband services will not aid in our shared goal of achieving ubiquitous broadband deployment; it will instead have a chilling effect on investment as well as network construction and enhancements in unserved areas. Turning 21st Century broadband networks into "dumb pipes" is not what will draw investment to grow jobs in the communications sector and bring high-speed broadband to every home in America.

You have previously indicated that you would rely on fact-based analysis for future rulemakings. However, in your effort to reclassify broadband services as telecommunications services, you appear to be solely relying on the unsubstantiated fear that broadband service providers may harm consumers at some future date. It also appears that you are operating under the misguided notion that there is a lack of competition among broadband service providers.
The FCC concluded in 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007 that broadband competition was robust and further regulations were unnecessary. If anything, the market is more competitive today, and you have offered no detailed evidence to the contrary. There is scant evidence that the broadband market lacks competition or that consumers have been harmed in a manner that would warrant the heavy-handed 19th century regulations that you seek to impose on a highly competitive 21st century communications marketplace.

Furthermore, your proposal faces an insurmountable hurdle based upon the Supreme Court's opinion in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., before the agency can completely abandon its previous conclusions that broadband services are information services. A reclassification of broadband services would have to "rest[] upon factual findings that contradict those which underlay [the FCC's] prior policy," and the previous decisions "ha[ve] engendered serious reliance interests that must be taken into account." The manner in which broadband services are offered and consumed has not changed during the past twelve years in a manner that would warrant a reversal in the previous conclusions that broadband services are information services. And tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars have been invested in broadband networks in reliance on the classification of broadband services as information services.

It is inconceivable for the Commission to impose industry-wide rules based upon unjustified speculation about what may occur in the future, or that the Comcast-BitTorrent dispute in itself (or even in combination with the 2004 Madison River case) justify such rules. It is not too late for you to change course and recognize that now is not the time for new unprecedented regulations on broadband services. We strongly urge you to abandon your effort to regulate the Internet.


Johnny Isakson
United States Senator


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