WASHINGTON, December 18, 2009 – An association representing locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies in rural America sent a letter Friday to members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce urging lawmakers to oppose a recent request by a number of tech companies to ban state regulation of internet protocol-based services.
“As you know, the FCC is statutorily required to provide its National Broadband Plan blueprint to the Congress on February 17, 2010. Consequently, any consideration of a request of the nature that is outlined in the AT&T et. al. communication to you, on a stand-alone basis, would be premature and disruptive to this major undertaking the FCC already has underway,” wrote National Telecommunications Cooperative Association Vice President Government Affairs Tom Wacker.
Wacker urges policy-makers to oppose legislation that would subject IP-based services to exclusive federal jurisdiction and says such a move would not be an affirmation of existing policy.
The first letter was signed by AT&T, Google, Microsoft, the National Association of Manufacturers, TechAmerica, Telecommunications Industry Association, T-Mobile, Verizon Communications and the VON Coalition.
“Absent Congressional action to confirm exclusive federal jurisdiction, IP services will be subject to a patchwork of 50-plus different regulatory regimes, stifling innovation and the industry’s ability to take full advantage of available cost savings,” read the letter.
“Legislation to re-affirm exclusive federal jurisdiction over IP based services – regardless of technology or provider – would further the national focus on policies to spur continued evolution to more advanced IP and broadband networks, and foster continued development and deployment of new and innovative IP services, as well as of the broadband platforms on which those services depend,” the letter continued.
But Wacker said in his letter that policy-makers need to consider the impact on state universal service funds, intercarrier compensation, consumer protection, public safety and by extension, and national security.
“Let there be no question that the record and the facts surrounding this issue do not support the letter’s premise that a preemptive maneuver of this nature is little more than an affirmation of existing Federal Communications Commission policy,” Wacker countered. The “plethora of public interest considerations associated with this proposal that cannot be overlooked. Clearly the simplistic form of AT&T’s request is anything but that and does not merit further consideration,” he said.
Editor’s Note: The Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance (ITTA) writes to note that it also supports the theme of NTCA’s letter. Curt Stamp, President of ITTA sent this letter to Congress earlier this week.