Last week the DC Circuit Court of Appeals denied Federal Communication Commission claims that it had authority “implied,” but not expressly granted by Congress, to “manage” network management techniques of Comcast and other broadband network providers. Policy analysts and advocates have already joined in debating next steps for the FCC and Congress. This ConsumerGram (CG) is the first in what will be a series designed to address one by one a variety of issues, some of which are known now but others which will materialize as the debate proceeds. This CG addresses whether or not the FCC should seek clarification from Congress of its broadband Internet goals and the means to be used to fulfill them.
It restates an oft-ignored truism – that the FCC is the agent of consumers and voters via power granted on their behalf by Congress. It emphasizes: a) notwithstanding volumes of commentary and opinion by stakeholders, consumers are not clearly and fairly informed of either the core issues or the stakes involved; b) whether or not the FCC has authority under existing law, resolution of the jurisdiction issue will take a long time and foster an environment of uncertainty; c) even if the Courts agree that the FCC has the necessary authority under current law, administrative and legal resolution of assorted issues that now divide politically and economically powerful stakeholders will consume resources and time in ways that will thwart achievement of the National Broadband Plan. Time consumed by FCC rulemakings might well span generations of “Internet Time” and would put on hold investments and innovations that otherwise make good business sense and serve consumers’ needs. …. Click here to read the entire-piece