In the oddest twist of fate, manufacturers, telecoms and consumers are all breathing a sigh of relief upon hearing that both the House and Senate Commerce Committees are contemplating a rewrite of telecommunications law to acknowledge the existence of the Internet. Ah, sweet, sweet regulation!
As you’ll remember, the FCC received a judicial noogie* from the DC Circuit when it ruled the FCC didn’t have the authority to chastise Comcast for steering Internet bandwidth away from poor, defenseless children who were stealing movies and music on BitTorrent, and instead diverting it to evil doers implicated in healthcare, education, global commerce and other nefarious, high-bandwidth practices. Nevertheless, FCC Julius Genachowski decided that he’d give himself the authority to regulate the Internet by rejiggering Title II of the Telecom Act by reclassifying it as a telecommunications service, as opposed to a data service.
Well, following hot on the heels of letters from 74 House Democrats and 37 Senate Republicans, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman and Senate Commerce Chair John Rockefeller announced that they’ll develop proposals to update the Communications Act, starting in June.
Gentlemen, you get the humble thanks of a grateful manufacturing sector. The FCC’s proposed boot-strapping of regulatory authority would’ve only served to chill broadband deployment and investment in the telecom sector, with manufacturers and consumers getting the short end of the stick. Of course, there’ll be concern over whether or not net neutrality provisions will be foisted upon network managers, but at least through a legitimate legislative process, everyone will have the opportunity to be heard. And Mr. Chairmen, you have our deepest appreciation.
* It’s a legal term of art. Really, it’s in Black’s Law Dictionary.