The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 June 17 to court feedback on ways to regulate broadband access, with Democrats winning out over the Republicans in a classic partisan matchup over the future of the Web.
The key proposal includes FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's plan to define broadband access as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations, which calls for all data traffic to be equally treated.
This "light touch" aims to strike middle ground by rejecting the enforcement of legacy phone regulation to broadband, as well as the elimination of broadband oversight by the FCC.
These Internet companies believe that Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast AT&T should not be allowed to throttle the Web services and applications they offer to consumers.
AT&T and the other carriers vehemently oppose such regulation, suggesting such a move would hinder innovation and investment.
Republican Commissioner Meredith A. Baker sided with the carriers when she offered her dissenting vote because:
""opening a proceeding creates so much regulatory uncertainty that it harms incentives for investment in broadband infrastructure and makes providers and investors alike think twice about moving forward with network investments under this dark regulatory cloud. This outcome can only harm consumers who need better, faster and more ubiquitous broadband today.""
"It's not hard to understand why companies subject to an agency's oversight would prefer no oversight at all if they had the chance," he said. "But a system of checks and balances in the communications sector has served our country well for many decades, fostering trillions of dollars of investment in wired and wireless communications networks, and in content, applications and services-and creating countless jobs and consumer benefits."