WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the FCC released its National Broadband Plan. The Plan seeks to increase the availability of broadband services across America. The following statement may be attributed to Barbara Esbin, Senior Fellow & Director of the Center for Communications and Competition Policy at The Progress & Freedom Foundation:
Much of what we heard this morning about the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan was very encouraging. The Plan is bold in reach and outlook, and sets an agenda for further research and discussion, as well as targeted actions on the part of the FCC and other agencies of government. Perhaps of equal importance, it recognizes that "Today's broadband ecosystem is vibrant and healthy in many ways," suggesting that there is no need to fix that which is not broken with respect to our regulatory framework for the broadband Internet.
I am particularly pleased to read that the many contentious issues concerning the legal framework for the FCC's implementation of the Plan, including the ill-conceived request that the FCC simply re-classify all broadband Internet access services as Title II telecommunications services so that they may be more pervasively regulated, are not explicitly included among the recommendations contained in the Plan itself. Rather, the Plan commits only that the knotty legal and jurisdictional questions raised by these requests will be subject to further consideration by the FCC as it moves forward to implement those portions of the Plan that fall within its subject matter jurisdiction over wire and radio communications. This is how it should be.
Only the full Commission can vote proposed plans and policy goals into enforceable rules — through notice-and-comment rule making proceedings — and only where the proposals lie squarely within the authority delegated to the agency by Congress. Following correct procedures and recognizing the FCC's jurisdictional limitations is critical for the prompt achievement of the many important goals outlined in the broadband blueprint that the FCC has put forth. It is a hopeful omen that the Plan's authors have exercised a degree of regulatory humility with respect to the scope of the FCC's regulatory authority. Following the correct process will ensure that the FCC's efforts can be well-balanced, sustainable and effective.
Esbin is available for further comment. Please contact Mike Wendy firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.