The FCC had to defend its national broadband plan on Capitol Hill, and things didn’t go quite as smoothly as the FCC would have liked. Congressmen had some pointed questions regarding competition and regulation of the Internet. Enterprise Networking Planet has more details.
The Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband plan came under its first congressional review Thursday morning, with lawmakers directing pointed questions about proposals to reclaim spectrum from TV broadcasters and promote competition in the Internet service sector.
The hearing also surfaced deep divisions among the five commissioners about the agency’s proper role and authority in establishing a regulatory framework over broadband services, revisiting the testy issue of net neutrality, which was absent from the plan, but remains under consideration both in a proceeding at the FCC and a federal appeals court.
Several congressmen voiced concerns about the plan’s spectrum recommendations, which propose reallocating 120 MHz of broadcast airwaves for wireless data networks. The plan stresses that the FCC would invite broadcasters to voluntarily relinquish spectrum licenses in exchange for a portion of the proceeds of a resale auction, though broadcasters have already voiced opposition to the proposal and warned against any efforts to force their hand.
“I hope if they have to relinquish anything it will be on a voluntary basis,” said Cliff Stearns, the ranking Republican on the House Internet subcommittee.