Technology

Hoyer: Congress has broadband power

House
Majority Leader Steny
Hoyer (D-Md.) supports a legislative process to clarify the rules
surrounding
broadband services after an appeals court decision in April thrust the
former
regulatory framework into uncertainty, his office said on Tuesday.

Hoyer
believes lawmakers “have
the authority on this critical matter,” Hoyer’s spokeswoman Katie Grant
told
The Hill.

The
endorsement of a
congressional process comes amid squabbling between Internet service
providers
and public interest activists on whether Capitol Hill or the FCC should
make
decisions about the future of broadband.

The
Democratic leaders of the
commerce panels and House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick
Boucher
(D-Va.) have launched meetings with stakeholders on the prospect of
targeted
broadband legislation to clarify regulatory questions. Meanwhile, the
FCC has
launched a proceeding that could increase its power to regulate in this
area.

“The FCC has itself
acknowledged that it must walk a very careful legal path as it develops a
reclassification plan, which underscores the utility of also having Congress …
legislate a consensus approach,” Grant said.

Public interest groups such
as Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the Media Access Project say legislation
is an unnecessary alternative to the Democratic Federal Communications
Commission’s plan to boost its regulatory authority over broadband through its
own proceedings. 

Broadband providers such as AT&T
and Verizon have called for a legislative process — rather than an FCC process
— to clarify broadband regulations. They say an FCC process would not stand up
in court. 

When questioned, Hoyer’s office did not take the opportunity to
throw its support behind the FCC’s “Title II” reclassification plan, which
would boost its authority over broadband access providers.

Seventy-seven House Democrats oppose the FCC plan to increase its
authority.

Tags
See all Hill.TV See all Video