Rockefeller orders FCC to speed up broadband plan implementation

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) demanded that the FCC to stop dragging its feet when it comes to implementing provisions of the National Broadband Plan.

He also directed FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to do whatever it takes to enact net neutrality rules. And, if necessary, he said he would take on the challenge of revamping the communications laws.

"The report has over 200 recommendations.  But it takes no action.  It is long on vision, but short on tactics," Rockefeller said.

"So I am going to challenge the FCC.  I am going to challenge the FCC to make the hard choices that will help bring broadband to every corner of this country.  Putting ideas on paper is not enough.  Just seeking comment on a slew of issues is not enough.  It’s action that counts."

Genachowski told the committee that the agency is moving as fast as it can, recently releasing a timeline for more than 60 rulemaking procedures and comment periods.

Rockefeller responded that gathering comments on ideas is not enough.

"I was told we'd be off and running" after the broadband plan was completed, Rockefeller said. "I don't get that impression....when are we going to see things happening?"

The plan's recommendations include the phrase "Congress should..." more than 139 times, Rockefeller points out.

"That begs the question, what are the priorities for the fcc coming out of this plan?"

Genachowski repeated the themes he's long talked about: freeing up more spectrum for wireless service, revamping the $8 billion universal service fund and creating a nationwide public safety communications network.

Turning to the D.C. Circuit's ruling that the FCC doesn't have authority to impose broadband regulations, Rockefeller gave clear instructions.

"First, in the near-term, I want the agency to use all of its existing authority to protect consumers and pursue the broad objectives of the broadband plan," he said.

"Second, in the long-term, if there is a need to rewrite the law to provide consumers, the FCC, and industry with a new framework, I will take that task on."