FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is circulating an order that would classify wireless broadband Internet access service as an information service, rather than a telecommunications service.
Communications services classified under the information service header face far less regulation than those categorized as telecommunications service, such as wireline offerings.
Martin made the statement late last week during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. He said making wireless broadband an information service would eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers for service providers.
He added it also would establish a consistent regulatory framework across broadband platforms. This is the same rationale Martin has used to support deregulation of DSL, BPL and cable modem Internet access. He said action on the wireless broadband question would be especially timely since the FCC just auctioned AWS-1 spectrum for wireless broadband and is preparing for a 700MHz auction.
Steve Largent, CTIAs president and CEO, said consumers would have more choice, public safety personnel would be able to better perform their tasks and investors would be able to make decisions based on the market and not regulation. Wireless is driving America forward in the 21st century, and the chairman’s initiative is the right move at the right time, Largent added.
The FCC has been talking about designating wireless broadband as an information service since early 2005.
Wireless association CTIA praised the FCCs consideration of wireless broadband service, saying consumers, first responders and investors would be the beneficiaries.