Three GOPers signal early opposition to some of FCC's new broadband plan

A trio of Texas Republicans on Wednesday railed on the Federal Communications Commission's newly released National Broadband Plan.

Each told the San Angelo Standard-Times they had serious reservations about the report -- a set of suggestions, most of which require congressional approval, that the FCC delivered to lawmakers on Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Their dissent perhaps foretells some of the difficulties FCC proponents and broadband enthusiasts in Congress may face in the coming months.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters he doubted the need for the federal government to lead broadband expansion and invest heavily in private infrastructure.

“I have concerns about the appropriate role of the federal government in building broadband infrastructure,” Thornberry said. “It may actually hinder other efforts if the federal government takes control.”

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) also derided the plan, suggesting to the newspaper that funds appropriate for transforming the National Broadband Plan's suggestions into law could be misspent, much as broadband dollars in the 2009 federal stimulus went to "waste."

“While I believe expansion of broadband access to underserved areas is beneficial, I am concerned the $7.2 billion included in the ‘economic stimulus’ for broadband loans and grants last year will be subject to waste and mismanagement as we have seen in other stimulus projects,” the congressman said.

Neugebauer later expressed concern the proposal could mean trouble for broadcasters. His comments seemed to echo those of FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who said Tuesday she was "very concerned" with the plan's possible impacts on local news.

However, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) questioned whether broadband expansion was needed in the first place. 

The FCC has routinely stressed its goal is to ensure universal access to broadband, delivering high-speed connectivity to 90 percent of U.S. households by 2020. But Conaway signaled Wednesday that he hardly shared the agency's urgency on the broadband front.

“Nobody has a ‘right’ to the broadband, but it would be nice if everybody did have it,” Conaway told the newspaper.