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Experts Debate FCC Chairman’s ‘Third Way’ Proposal

in National Broadband Plan/Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2010 —The first panel of the Pike and Fischer Broadband Policy Summit VI was on the regulatory outlook. With the recent announcement of the FCC to reclassify broadband under the so-called "Third Way," the business community has become wary of the actions that the Federal Communications Commission could take.

The panel was moderated by Richard Wiley, managing partner Wiley Rein; the panel consisted of James Cicconi, AT&T; J. Erik Garr, former General Manager, National Broadband Plan, Federal Communications Commission; Rey Ramsey, TechNet; R. Gerard Salemme, Clearwire; Roger C. Sherman, Chief Counsel, Communications and Technology Policy, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce; Lauren Maxim Van Wazer, Cox Enterprises, Inc.

When asked about why deployment isn’t expand and the  decreasing status of America in international broadband rankings, Erik Garr responded by saying the problem is that the cost to deploy infrastructure is greater than revenue which would be achieved and that international comparisons don’t work in the United States due to the diversity of the geography and population density. “I like to pick on the Netherlands, it’s a lovely country but it's flat and relatively small, it would be like wiring northern Illinois.”

Ray Ramsey of TechNet when asked if the issue is adoption or availability, stressed that it is both but adoption is the harder problem to fix. He believes it can be solved via the training of children who have been shown to then teach their families how to use the internet.

The issue of the looming spectrum crisis, as the FCC has called it, is something which R. Gerard Salemme of Clearwire,  said is something industry and the government agree on. All parties believe that a spectrum crisis is going to happen if new action is not taken. Salemme felt that the expansion of the secondary market and the new rules which allow broadcasters to release unused spectrum will solve some of the crunch but not all of it. He said industry needs to move up the frequency table

One of the most contentious points the panel addressed was the FCC wireless competition report. AT&T’s James Cicconi said, "We see a disturbing trend toward more regulation. The wireless report claimed there wasn’t enough competition but this isn’t true. We want to preserve an open internet; we don’t feel like you need to reclassify for a very narrow problem for a narrow issue. They will have to come back to a title I approach.” He felt that the a very targeted piece of legislation is necessary. “We would supported targeted legislation. This is not a major problem there are not serial abuses,” Cicconi concluded.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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