AT&T joins Verizon in calling for overhaul of telecom laws

AT&T's top lobbyist said in a blog post this morning that Congress should decide who has authority over broadband services and that lawmakers should step in before the Federal Communications Commission tries to reclassify broadband.

Jim Cicconi, who heads AT&T's Washington office, said, "If there are questions about the authority of the FCC in the Internet ecosystem, the proper answer is not for the FCC to get adventurous in interpreting its authority, as some are urging. Instead, any question of the FCC's jurisdiction over the Internet should properly be referred to the Congress for resolution."

His blog post comes a day after Verizon executive Tom Tauke said in a speech that it is Congress' responsibility to rewrite the Telecom Act to account for the evolving technology used for communications purposes these days. He also questioned whether the FCC is the best agency to oversee the broadband industry. Instead, the Federal Trade Commission might be better suited for the job, or a new agency altogether.

"The FCC derives its authority from Congress, and if the courts say the FCC lacks the authority ti needs to do what it wants to do, the proper--and constitutionally correct--answer is to ask the Congress to address the question," Cicconi said in the blog.

"Any other answer will appear as a means-justifies-the-ends rationalization by the action it can't reasonably expect anyone in disagreement to accept. At best, it would lead to litigation and investment uncertainty."

Tauke said that if the FCC tries to reclassify broadband as a Title II service in order to justify net neutrality regulations, the FCC would wind up back in court.