Olympia Snowe Criticizes FCC’s Broadband Reclassification Plan

Rep. Olympia Snowe does not like the FCCs plan to reclassify broadband. The objection isnt so unusual for a Republican, except that Snowe, who represents the state of Maine, long has supported Net neutrality principles.

Earlier this week, in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Snowe decried the significant drawbacks she said would occur if broadband is regulated as a telecommunications service, as defined by Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. One of those drawbacks, she said, would come in the form of hampered or delayed broadband investment a stance that echoes many network operators criticisms. She also argued that the 1934 law is insufficient for overseeing 21st Century technologies.
However, Genachowski has said in his third way manifesto released in April that he would not impose the more burdensome Title II regulations, such as price controls, onto broadband reclassification. The FCC is expected to discuss Genachowskis proposal at its June 17 meeting.

Snowe further told Genachowski that Congress is the better body to address Americas broadband policies, as well as the issue of whether telcos and cable companies may give preferential treatment to Internet traffic. Indeed, the heads of the Congressional committees that govern communications policy already have said they want to update the 1996 Telecom Act. The House and Senate worked on such an update several years ago the efforts died as more pressing matters consumed members attention. And now, with two wars, a giant oil spill, high unemployment, illegal immigration issues, midterm elections and other hot topics at hand, the prospects for such overhaul seem far-fetched.

Genachowski has made Net neutrality one of his key projects for his FCC tenure. The pursuit experienced a setback in April, though, after a federal appeals court sided with Comcast Corp. in a case dating back to 2008. That was when the Kevin Martin-led FCC aimed to punish Comcast for throttling some peer-to-peer users traffic. Comcast filed a lawsuit, which it won this year. The ruling was considered a serious setback for Genachowskis Net neutrality efforts but he appears undaunted.

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