Originally published: March 17, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:37am
The honeymoon for the National Broadband Plan ended quickly.
There are signs that deep fissures are emerging among FCC commissioners. That reality was hammered home when Commissioner Mignon Clyburn -- normally a staunch ally of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski -- sharply criticized one of the plan's core proposals: offering incentives to television broadcasters to relinquish large chunks of airwaves to be reassigned to mobile wireless carriers.
Commissioner Michael Copps raised the temperature in the packed room with a veiled threat to telecommunications and cable companies, which the FCC is heavily relying on to make tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments consistent with the plan's goals. "Lack of competition could conceivably require us to take actions going beyond what is generally discussed here," he said. "We may have to invoke other available authorities already invested in the commission -- or, should we lack some authority that we need, we may have to request it." Those comments appeared to be a reference to tentative "network neutrality" rules approved in October that would toughen agency guidelines designed to preserve the Internet's openness and to the possible reclassification of broadband from a lightly to heavily regulated service.
The agency's two Republicans balanced their praise with ample criticism about key recommendations -- and strong warnings that the document could pave the way for more regulation.
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