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Committee leaders to begin work on telecom overhaul

A group of committee leaders from both chambers of Congress on Monday pledged to begin work updating the Communications Act, the statutory charter of the Federal Communications Commission that many say has failed to keep pace with the broadband era.

The Communications Act, whose last major update came with the 1996 Telecommunications Act, serves as the blueprint for much of the FCC's work, but in light of a recent court decision, the commission's statutory authority under the law has been a hotly debated uncertainty.

In a joint announcement today, Sens. John Rockefeller and John Kerry and Reps. Henry Waxman and Rick Boucher, the Democratic chairmen of each chamber's commerce committee and relevant Internet subcommittee, said they would begin the contentious process of trying to update the law through a series of meetings with stakeholders next month.

At issue is the FCC's jurisdiction as a regulator in the broadband services area. That role has been the subject of considerable debate and speculation since a [federal appeals court struck down an order the commission issued in 2008 punishing Comcast](http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/news/article.php/11849_3875071) for secretly throttling peer-to-peer traffic on its data network.

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