The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy Karr: 201-533-8838,,

Free Press Tells Truth about FCC's 'Third Way'

New report separates fact from fiction in the broadband oversight debate


Today, Free Press released a new issue brief
that sets the record straight on the Federal Communications Commission's
move to modernize its broadband policy framework. The report, The
Truth About the Third Way: Separating Fact from Fiction in the FCC
Reclassification Debate
, dispels misinformation being spread by the
telecom industry and its sympathizers in Congress in the debate over
the agency's broadband oversight authority. The report examines myths
about reclassifying broadband services regarding issues such as
investment, regulation and the role of Congress.

"We cannot allow America's broadband future to be sabotaged
by the misinformation being spread by an industry that opposes even the
most minimal government oversight and consumer protections," said
S. Derek Turner
, Free Press research director. "This is a
pivotal moment in Internet policymaking, and lawmakers must be able to
separate fact from fiction. Contrary to what some telco executives would
have you believe, this action is absolutely necessary for achieving
America's broadband goals of universal, affordable, world-class
broadband access."

Read The Truth About the Third Way: Separating Fact from
Fiction in the FCC Reclassification Debate

The debate over the classification of broadband transmission
- consumers' connection to the Internet via companies like AT&T -
began after the FCC's authority over broadband was revoked in a court
case brought by Comcast, the nation's largest broadband provider. In
order to establish the solid legal footing needed to carry out broadband
policymaking, including the National Broadband Plan, the FCC is
proposing a "Third Way" approach to its oversight of broadband services
by reclassifying broadband transmission as a "telecommunications
service" under the Communications Act.

The agency will open a proceeding on this proposal at its
monthly open meeting next week on June 17.

Some of the key myths debunked in the report include:

Fiction: The FCC's "Third Way" proposal is a
distraction from implementing the National Broadband Plan to bring
Internet access to all Americans.

Fact: The FCC's ability to carry out key
elements of its National Broadband Plan depends on the agency
re-establishing its light-touch authority over broadband networks.
Otherwise, these policies, such as promoting rural broadband adoption,
strengthening public safety networks and connecting low-income
Americans, could be reversed in the courts over the next few years.

Fiction: Placing broadband services under
the authority of the FCC would stifle investment in broadband networks.

Fact: The Commission's proposed move would
merely preserve the status quo. In fact, numerous top telco executives
have told investors that they do not intend to change their investment
strategy for their networks because of the FCC's plan in any way.

Fiction: The FCC's move would lead to job
losses in the telecom sector.

Fact: Even as revenues have increased, the
telecom sector's job-loss trend has accelerated. In fact, industry
statements have indicated that job cuts will continue - but with no
mention of FCC action as the culprit.

Fiction: Only Congress can act to restore
the FCC's authority over broadband networks.

Fact: The Communications Act - the
foundation of telecom law - gives the FCC the flexibility to determine
how it protects consumers. Furthermore, in 2005, a landmark Supreme
Court case made clear that the FCC has the power to designate broadband
Internet access services as either a telecommunications or information

"We welcome a lively debate about the best way for the FCC
to move forward with implementing the National Broadband Plan," said Aparna
, Free Press policy counsel and author of the report.
"But we must move the discussion away from deliberate misdirection and
obfuscation. Dialogue should be grounded in communications law and
accurate facts about both the FCC's proposal and the technological and
market realities of today's broadband world."

Read the full issue brief here:

Free Press was created to give people a voice in the crucial decisions that shape our media. We believe that positive social change, racial justice and meaningful engagement in public life require equitable access to technology, diverse and independent ownership of media platforms, and journalism that holds leaders accountable and tells people what's actually happening in their communities.

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