FCC Broadband Reclassification: An Agency Out of Control

FCC Broadband Reclassification: An Agency Out of Control

May 06, 2010

Reactions by Competitive Enterprise Institute telecom policy analysts Wayne Crews and Ryan Radia on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s statement on broadband policy.

Washington, D.C., May 6, 2010 – Reactions by Competitive Enterprise Institute telecom policy analysts Wayne Crews and Ryan Radia on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s statement on broadband policy:

Wayne Crews Vice President for Policy Competitive Enterprise Institute

Chairman Genachowski calls his proposed expansion of the FCC’s authority a “Third Way.” He describes it as the only reasonable middle ground in the debate over broadband regulation. But restating the phrase “broad consensus” over and over again simply cannot mask the fact that the proposed reclassification of broadband services is really an unwarranted, unjustifiable power grab by a federal agency that is increasingly out of control.

Genachowski and his fellow Commissioners should be moving toward greater freedom of competition in the communications marketplace – especially among next-generation technologies that the future of broadband will bring. Instead, the FCC seems desperate for any excuse to expand its authority just as the economic rationale for the agency’s overarching regulatory role grows weaker and weaker. 

Ryan Radia Associate Director of Technology Studies Competitive Enterprise Institute

The FCC’s latest attempt to expand its powers in the name of consumer protection will undermine the future of broadband and distort the communications marketplace. Title II reclassification of Internet providers will yet again place the FCC in dubious legal territory, especially since today’s broadband market is as competitive as ever and growing more so all the time. Competition and consumer choice come from innovation and market entry, not from regulation and reclassification.

It’s hardly reassuring that the FCC has pledged to exempt broadband providers from some of the most onerous regulations contained in Title II. Reclassification paves the road for a future FCC to further subjugate the broadband market to political interference. Worse, it erodes the very freedom and regulatory restraint that have been essential to the growth of the Internet as we know it today.

The reclassification battle will only distract the FCC from what ought to be the agency’s top priority: freeing up the airwaves. Tomorrow’s broadband revolution will need far more spectrum than is currently available to the marketplace. Liberalizing the airwaves is daunting enough already without the FCC’s overambitious regulatory agenda thrown in to the mix – especially since the agency already has so much on its plate.

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group that studies the intersection of regulation, risk, and markets.