January 23, 2013
Broadband Agenda - Open Internet, Competition, Spectrum on Top
By Joyce Wang
Count on CA Democratic Rep Anna Eshoo to push broadband competition, new investment and an open Internet in the 113th Congress. Speaking at a Broadband Breakfast Clubevent Tues, the co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and ranking member of the House tech subcommittee said consumer protection should be "one of the basic tenets" of any telecom policy or regulation. That means preserving the basic "rules of the road" that the FCC adopted to ensure a free and open Internet, she said. Eshoo has said she plans to introduce legislation clarifying the FCC's authority if the Open Internet order, currently being challenged at court, is overturned. Meanwhile, she said consumer protection also means ensuring broadband providers accurately disclose the terms and conditions of service, including a clear and concise explanation of pricing and any limit, cap or network management policy that could impact user experience. For now, the work appears to be focused on wireless services: In a few weeks, Eshoo will reintroduce legislation aimed at ensuring consumers know what they are getting before committing to a 2-year wireless contract. David Grossman, Eshoo's senior tech policy adviser, said the bill might also cover fixed broadband providers. "Certainly we are seeing data caps more and more" whether it's wireline or wireless, he said. Eshoo said freeing up more spectrum must be a top priority, with US mobile broadband traffic estimated to grow an additional 16 times by '16. First, "we need to continue our work with federal agencies to see that the spectrum they hold is being used efficiently, both through reallocation and sharing," she said. Eshoo is a big proponent of unlicensed spectrum use. She and fellow CA Congressman Darrel Issa (R) recently called on the FCC to "protect and preserve public access to unlicensed spectrum" as the agency considers implementing incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum. "We don't want to lose this opportunity" and innovation platform, she said. Eshoo also called "unacceptable" Congress' failure to pass cybersecurity legislation in the last session. Also at the event, Jo Wender, legislative dir of Rep Ed Markey (D-MA), highlighted a number of his boss' privacy related initiatives, including the "Do Not Track Kids Act," which would extend the COPPA coverage of children age 12 and younger to include teens. When it comes to unlicensed spectrum, Wender said Markey's on the same page. "We don't know what the next technology will be" so "you need to give them a space to develop," he said.
Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in CableFAX Daily. Go here to subscribe.