FCC’s McDowell challenges broadband plan recommendations

—Third, the Plan refers to the elephant in the room, a proceeding that has shadowed the Plan since last fall:  the open Internet or “net neutrality” proceeding.  Although the Plan does not take a position on that proceeding, I take this opportunity to reiterate my serious concerns regarding this agency embarking on such a regulatory journey.

—Additionally, I question the recommendation that appears to ask Congress to fund a new communications venture that, unlike current funding for public broadcasting, would cover new online digital platforms and expand the eligible pool of applicants beyond FCC license holders.  I cannot in good conscience endorse new federal spending for this or other ideas contained in the Plan when our government is spending record amounts by taking on monumental levels of debt – all while America’s families and businesses are cutting their budgets in an attempt to restore fiscal responsibility.

—In the same spirit, I am concerned that the Plan may have given new life to ideas that could result in the imposition of new taxes on the Internet.  Federal preemption of Internet taxation could be beneficial, but only if it results in more freedom.

—Furthermore, although the recommendation that Congress amend the “fair use” provision of the Copyright Act has been the subject of recent edits, it still is not clear how broadly the Plan’s proposal actually sweeps.  Copyright issues in the digital era are highly complex.  More importantly, policies that support strong enforcement of property rights, including intellectual property rights, will encourage the creation of more compelling content that could help spur broadband adoption. 

—When it comes to the Plan’s discussions regarding set-top boxes, I caution the Commission to tread gingerly.  Technological mandates by the government almost never result in robust innovation. 

The National Broadband Plan will spark a number of specific
proposals, comment periods and rule-making procedures before any of the
recommendations are enacted.

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