August 16, 2010: MARKEY, ESHOO, INSLEE, DOYLE LETTER TO FCC ON OPEN INTERNET

Lawmakers Urge FCC to Take Action to Preserve Free and Open Internet, Reject Industry-Centered Google-Verizon Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Anna G. Eshoo, co-authors of comprehensive net neutrality legislation in the House, along with Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA), today released a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski to urge the FCC to take action to preserve the free, open nature of the Internet.  The letter by the four lawmakers, all of whom currently serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, follows a proposal by Google and Verizon that would result in significant changes to the way the Internet currently operates, including the potential that certain Internet content could be prioritized.

Rep. Markey said:  “No private interest should be permitted to carve up the Internet to suit its own purposes.  The open Internet has been an innovation engine that has helped power our economy, and fiber-optic fast lanes or tiers that slow down certain content would dim the future of the Internet to the detriment of consumers, competition, job creation and the free-flow of ideas.  In our letter, we express our strong support for Chariman Genachowski’s ‘Third Way’ proposal to bring the benefits of broadband to all Americans and encourage the FCC to move forward to preserve the free, open nature of the Internet.”

Rep. Eshoo said:  “In my Silicon Valley district there are people building the next generation of internet breakthroughs.  We cannot undermine their success by ‘cable-izing’ the Internet. That’s why my colleagues and I remain steadfast in our commitment to net neutrality.  The reactions to the legislative proposal from Google and Verizon demonstrate that it is not nearly strong enough to meet this standard. This letter is a clear statement of the principles that we believe are necessary to preserve openness on the Internet to allow the kind of innovation and growth that is the hallmark of today’s Internet.  I remain optimistic that Chairman Genachowski will be able to find a path forward that honors these principles.”

Americans online experience shouldn't be dictated by corporate CEO's,” said Rep. Inslee.  “Innovation and creativity online have given rise to millions of jobs and tremendous economic growth, in large part because individual consumers have been free to access what they want.  The principles we have set forth in this letter coincide with that fact.  Net neutrality is not about imposing a new set of rules, net neutrality is about preserving the open Internet and empowering consumers and small businesses to bring the next generation of entrepreneurial drive to the world wide web.”

Rep. Doyle said: “The power of the Internet comes from the ability of everyone to find anything anywhere – or to put anything on it for the world to see.  The internet’s value comes from the fact that it’s not like any other communications platform before it.  I am concerned that the proposal put forward by Google and Verizon could have the effect of choking off much of the most important, creative, and valuable contributions the Internet can make to the idea-driven economy of the 21st century.  At a time when research shows that low-income Americans are the fastest-growing users of the mobile web, it would be short-sighted to wall-off those users from the open internet and all of its benefits. My constituents know the benefit of an open Internet and they’ve urged me to press the FCC to address this issue quickly.  That’s why I signed this letter to the Chairman Genachowski urging him to continue to work to preserve those essential qualities of the Internet.

 

A PDF copy of the letter is available here:  LINK

 

The Honorable Julius Genachowski

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street

Washington, DC  20554

Dear Chairman Genachowski:

The deployment of broadband service is a national imperative - as important to our nation's economic success, growth and competitiveness as the postal roads, canals, rail lines, and interstate highways of the past.

Following the D.C. Circuit Court’s Comcast decision earlier this year, the Commission’s regulatory authority with respect to this vital engine of our economy was upended.  Accordingly, the initiation in May of a proceeding on Commission authority was an appropriate and tailored response to the Court’s Comcast ruling. Reclassification and clear FCC oversight as contemplated by your “Third Way” proposal is critically important for bringing the benefits of broadband to all Americans and achieving the goals set forth in the landmark National Broadband Plan, including advancement of consumer welfare, energy independence and efficiency, job creation and other national priorities.

The recent proposal by Google and Verizon of an industry-centered net neutrality policy framework reinforces the need for resolution of the current open proceedings at the Commission to ensure the maintenance of an open Internet. Rather than expansion upon a proposal by two large communications companies with a vested financial interest in the outcome, formal FCC action is needed.  The public interest is served by a free and open Internet that continues to be an indispensable platform for innovation, investment, entrepreneurship, and free speech.

 As the Commission’s broadband proceeding moves forward, we believe that the Commission should be guided by the following fundamental principles:

1.      The FCC must have oversight authority for broadband access services.

The United States has fallen behind other nations in terms of broadband deployment and adoption because of the failure to properly plan for its development and support its use; however, the National Broadband Plan represents a monumental step towards increasing deployment and adoption and unleashing the power of high speed access to create jobs, improve health care delivery, upgrade public safety tools and expand educational opportunities.  Without the proper authority to implement all facets of the Plan, we will not fulfill its full promise or achieve its goals.  Classification of broadband access service under Title II, combined with the Commission’s forbearance authority, would provide the necessary certainty for broadband network operators, broadband users, and Internet innovators alike.

2.      Paid prioritization would close the open Internet.

Paid prioritization is contrary to the fundamental non-discrimination principles that have made the Internet the most successful communications and commercial medium in history. Such arrangements would favor certain content providers to the detriment of other content creators, degrading the traffic of providers unable or unwilling to pay. These types of arrangements, whether they are called paid prioritization or fast lanes harm the Internet.  A commonsense non-discrimination requirement without loopholes is essential for an efficient marketplace where businesses and consumers – not carriers – decide the winners and losers in the Internet ecosystem.  We strongly encourage you to reject any policy proposals that would permit paid prioritization of delivery of Internet content.

3.      Wired and wireless services should have a common regulatory framework and rules.

Exclusion of wireless services from open Internet requirements could widen the digital divide by establishing a substandard, less open experience for traditionally underserved regions and demographic groups that may more often need to access or choose to access the Internet on a mobile device.  Moreover, such inconsistent principles could confuse consumers, who would have different and uneven experiences depending solely on the connection that their mobile devices might use to reach the Internet.  An Internet framework excluding wireless from important consumer safeguards could impede attainment of national broadband goals, while lessening the potential for wireless platforms to serve unserved and underserved areas.

4.  Broad “managed services” exceptions would swallow open Internet rules.

An overbroad definition of the proposed “managed services” category would sap the vitality and stunt the growth of the Internet. In fact, an overly broad interpretation of managed services would create an exception that swallows the rule. For example, managed services might be rebranded or repackaged services and applications – only with priority treatment not available to competitors.  By undermining competition and the value of the open Internet, managed services could have significantly negative consequences for consumers and commercial enterprises.

In sum, we believe that any rules that result from the Commission’s proceedings should focus on adherence to the public interest, discourage attempts to strangle the free-flow of lawful content, applications and services for American consumers and provide certainty both for entrepreneurs and Internet users.  The time for FCC action is now.  We look forward to continuing to work with you and other members of the Commission to ensure that the Commission’s Open Internet proceeding moves forward to protect the public interest.
 

Thank you for your consideration.

 
                                                            Sincerely,

 

Ed Markey, Member of Congress

Anna Eshoo, Member of Congress

Jay Inslee, Member of Congress

Mike Doyle, Member of Congress