For Immediate Release
Background: On Wednesday, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee will conduct a hearing on a comprehensive staff draft of legislation to rewrite the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The following statement is attributed to Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn:
“With this hearing, the Subcommittee has started a major initiative toward rewriting the 1996 Telecom Act. We should bear in mind that this hearing is only an early step in a long process. The Subcommittee should be applauded for beginning the effort to bring our telecommunications laws into the 21st century. While the staff draft is appropriately balancing many goals, Public Knowledge believes the balance should be tilted more in favor of consumers and competition.
“As we look over the draft, there are certain features we can generally endorse. Those include the provisions that would allow cities to build broadband networks, would ensure that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers are not burdened by state regulation, and would open up the video market to more competition.
“At the same time, we believe more work is needed to strengthen net neutrality language to ensure that the Internet really is kept open. The bill should also do more to preserve competitive opportunities for private companies to compete to provide local broadband services, and should also do more to ensure broadband service will become affordable for all consumers.
“We hope the Subcommittee will bring the legislation overall closer to the Principles for an Open Broadband Future that PK has put forward. PK looks forward to working with the Subcommittee toward that end.”
The principles in the paper call for a broadband network that is:
- open to competition from any entity, including municipalities;
- open to the attachment of any equipment the user chooses, as long as it does not harm the technical operation of the broadband network;
- open and accessible to consumers, application developers, and information service providers and to other networks, without restrictions or degradation, except for law enforcement or for network management purposes;
- open, available and affordable to all consumers, regardless of income, race, geographic location, or disability; and
- open to the maximally efficient number of licensed and unlicensed wireless providers.
Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at: http://www.publicknowledge.org
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