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Broadband advocates urge Republicans to overturn FCC on net neutrality

Grant Gross | Feb. 26, 2015
The U.S. Congress should pass net neutrality legislation that overturns proposed rules at the Federal Communications Commission so that the protections survive over the long term, some opponents of the FCC approach said.

"There's no follow-up by the agency that has jurisdiction," Eshoo said.

Wheeler declined Republican invitations to testify at Wednesday's Energy and Commerce hearing, as well as one planned by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing later in the day. With Wheeler not coming, the Oversight Committee postponed its hearing to explore White House influence on Wheeler's net neutrality proposal.

At the Energy and Commerce hearing, three of four witnesses spoke against the FCC proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecom service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

Reclassifying broadband at the FCC would bring uncertainty for both broadband providers and Web-based businesses, said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech-focused think tank. A future FCC could go "in either direction," repealing the actions of the Wheeler FCC to reclassify broadband, or restoring many of the Title II telecom regulations Wheeler's FCC decided not to enforce, he said.

Wheeler giving assurances that the FCC will forbear from many telecom regulations shows that "Title II is a kludge of a solution," he said. "It's not a solution when you have to take whole components of it and move them off the table."

But lawmakers should wait to see how the FCC action plays out, countered Gene Kimmelman, president and CEO of digital rights group Public Knowledge. The FCC's net neutrality rules advance the "fundamental principles that are necessary to promote freedom of expression," he said. Wheeler's plan gives the FCC "clarity in its policing tools that are necessary to guide an open Internet and prevent unreasonable discrimination."

 

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