With Congress in recess and Washington largely abandoned last week, the FCC issued three major orders. Comprising some four hundred pages of dense text, the rulings addressed widely different topics: reporting the progress of broadband deployment by private networks, price regulation over middle mile Internet (what the agency calls “special access”), and the proposed sale to Verizon of wireless spectrum currently being warehoused by a consortium of cable companies.
The timing was no coincidence. In its last major overhaul of the agency in 1996, Congress left the FCC with almost no authority over the Internet, whether content, transmission or the devices and software that consumers use to enjoy it. All three of last week’s orders pushed well beyond the FCC’s legal authority. Issuing them in rapid succession was the act of a petulant teenager, loudly defying a parent he knows has already left the room.
Each decision in its own way reflected the fierce determination of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and his two Democratic colleagues to recast the agency whenever possible for a starring role in the Internet economy. They genuinely believe their “prophylactic” agenda will help consumers, despite a long history that demonstrates repeatedly the folly of slow-moving governments trying to micromanage the evolution of disruptive technologies.
Click headline to read more--