WASHINGTON, April 13, 2010 – The Open Internet Coalition reiterated its wish on Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission move quickly to classify high speed Internet access services as telecommunications services to give the agency firmer footing in implementing its National Broadband Plan.
Coalition Executive Director Markham Erickson and Christopher Libertelli, Skype’s director of government and regulatory affairs, discussed in a conference call how policymakers might treat internet access providers after an appeals court recently ruled that the agency does not have the authority to make Comcast treat equally all data streaming over its networks.
Erickson and Libertelli said the court decision effectively makes unenforceable the FCC’s Internet policy statement guaranteeing consumers the right to use the content, applications and services of their choice over the internet.
If the FCC opens a proceeding to make broadband services defined as “telecommunications services” under a new policy, it will enable the agency to “narrowly regulate” just the onramps to the Internet without the bad idea of putting the whole internet under regulation, they said.
Additionally, the coalition spokesmen agreed that they are “not opposed to Congress getting involved” if it chooses to update telecommunication law, but expressed concern that lawmaker action may take too long while there’s a pressing need for consumers across the nation to experience broadband services.
“It’s too important to wait four, five, six years for Congress,” said Libertelli, who added that there are fewer than 70 days in the current legislative calendar in an election year, and the average change in telecom law takes six to 10 years. “I don’t think we can afford a decade’s worth of wait where there’s no consumer protection.”