Free Press Calls on FCC to Reclassify Broadband

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Liz Rose, Communications Director, 202-265-1490 x 32

Free Press Calls on FCC to Reclassify Broadband

Urges Commission to Heed Sen. Kerry’s Call for Action

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to
testify today before the Senate Commerce Committee on the Commission's
National Broadband Plan. Free Press is calling on the agency to
reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service to give the
National Broadband Plan firm legal footing.

According to numerous analysts and the FCC's own general counsel, the
recent Comcast v. FCC federal court decision places in doubt the
agency's authority to carry out many of the most important aspects of
the National Broadband Plan. This jurisdictional crisis stems from past
FCC decisions to regulate broadband by classifying these networks as
"information services," a break from past FCC precedent and the
framework of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Free Press is encouraging FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski
to relabel broadband as a
telecommunications service to ensure the agency has the authority to
implement the National Broadband Plan and to finally bring the United
States up to the levels of broadband access of other leading nations.

S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press,
made the following statement:

“Chairman Genachowski must move quickly to reverse the Bush-era FCC's
misguided classification of broadband Internet access as an integrated
information service. The federal court ruling has made it clear that
past errors have crippled the FCC's ability to put the public interest
ahead of big corporations. With strong leadership from Mr. Genachowski,
the Commission will be able to adopt policies to preserve the value of
the open Internet, bring broadband to rural and low-income Americans,
and provide consumers with basic protections. Failure to act decisively
and quickly will only embolden the special interest lobbies that have
fought against public interest policies and jeopardize both the open
Internet and the National Broadband Plan's chances for success.

“The chairman should ignore the cynical lobbying efforts by AT&T,
Verizon and Comcast that seek to render the FCC powerless to protect
consumers. The Commission's authority over issues like universal
service, emergency preparedness, customer privacy, nondiscrimination and
access for the disabled must be ironclad. It is unthinkable for the FCC
not to have clear authority to protect consumers on the nation’s
dominant communications medium.

“I cannot put it any better than Sen.
John Kerry did today
, “The FCC can act
right now.’”

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Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications. Learn more at www.freepress.net

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