July 21, 2003
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Re: The Regulatory Status of Broadband Services: Information
Services, Common Carriage, or Something in Between?
Dear Chairman Upton, Representative Markey and Members of the Subcommittee:
We thank the Subcommittee for holding what we hope will be the first
of several Congressional hearings to address broadband issues. We
are grateful that the Subcommittee appears to be focusing on the
FCC’s proposal to treat such services as interstate information
services. Such a classification is not only inconsistent with the
direction of the Congress and the Telecommunications Act, it is
also potentially disastrous to consumers who will have no level
of government to look to for protection in the absence of competition
for pricing, customer service, privacy and related issues.
Local government would have welcomed the opportunity to share with
the subcommittee our experiences as regulators of broadband services
provided over a cable system (both industry and government agreed
such services were a cable service up until the FCC Declaratory
Order in March of 2002). Because there was no doubt such services
were subject to local government oversight, consumers were protected.
Still, the cable industry and local government worked cooperatively
to deploy services with the result being that over ninety-percent
of homes will have access to broadband services from cable by the
end of this year. We would have also shared our insights as the
public’s right-of-way managers and community interest advocates.
Local government was not however invited to testify.
We were especially disappointed that the Subcommittee’s hearing
did not include a witness representing local government, as we are
the regulatory agency closest and most accessible to consumers.
Local government will, however, submit testimony before the end
of this week to provide the Committee with a ground-level assessment
of how broadband regulation and competition policies are working.
Further we will clarify for the record the nature and importance
of local governments’ role in promoting competition and protecting
cable and broadband consumers.
We also renew our pledge to assist both the Subcommittee and full
House Energy and Commerce Committee in any way we can to address
the numerous broadband issues outlined in our testimony.
National League of Cities
J. Thomas Cochran
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
National Association of Counties
National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
Hon. Marilyn J. Praisner