Hearing Of The Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, And The Internet Of The House Committee Of Energy And Commerce - Oversight Of The FCC
Welcome Chairman Genachowski, and welcome to all the Commissioners. We are
happy to have all five commissioners here for the first Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) oversight hearing of the 111th Congress.
I would first like to thank Commissioner Copps for his outstanding work as interim FCC
Chair. Under Mr. Copps' able leadership, the digital television transition went well, and the
Commission got back to business. Thank you for your service. I would also like to thank
Commissioners McDowell and Baker for the important roles they played in the DTV transition --
we are all aware of their commendable efforts to help improve the transition.
Chairman Genachowski, you take the helm at a critical time in communications policy. I
am confident that you can continue Commissioner Copps' work of getting the Commission staff
organized, energized, and focused on consumers. I know that your colleagues at the
Commission are enthused about your collaborative leadership and your vision for the agency
I am pleased that the Commission has already launched a comprehensive proceeding to
craft a national broadband plan. This is of immense importance to virtually every aspect of how
our society will function in the 21st century. The success of your work will be essential to the
delivery of health care and education, to jobs and economic growth, to science and the arts, to
journalism and media. Indeed, your forthcoming national broadband plan is critical to America's
competitiveness and leadership in the world. The Internet began here, and we must renew and
expand its infrastructure in service to the American people. I look forward to working very
closely with you on that endeavor.
Of course, any broadband plan must address issues related to wireless broadband,
including spectrum availability. The Committee has before it a bipartisan spectrum inventory
bill that would start the critical process of making more spectrum available for broadband
services. The FCC will play a critical role in this process and I am confident you understand the
need to do so efficiently and quickly.
We also need to consider ways we might expedite the construction of the wireless
facilities that are critical to broadband deployment. This is an infrastructure issue that is critical
to the successful deployment of broadband services. Simply put, without additional facilities
there will be no additional broadband.
I am particularly interested in learning how broadband can help enable other initiatives
important to this Committee, including smart grid technologies and the health IT transformation.
President Obama has made ensuring an open Internet a central plank in his
communications policy platform, and he has my full support. The Internet is a vital doorway to
opportunity for many, whether to distribute new content, to develop a new application, or simply
to search for a new job. We must ensure that the Internet remains the engine of economic
growth and technological innovation that helps propel our people and our economy forward.
The fears some have professed that net neutrality rules will stifle network investment
have proven unfounded over the years. Most recently, over 2200 public and private entities
applied for broadband grants and, in so doing, opted-in to net neutrality rules.
Industry will benefit from clarity, consistency and predictability with regard to net
neutrality. As a Member who has worked hard to protect the intellectual property rights of our
creative communities, I do not believe net neutrality and strong copyright protection are mutually
exclusive goals. In fact, clear net neutrality rules should help broadband network operators
explore innovative steps designed to stop the theft of online content. I know our new FCC
Chairman shares my perspective on the importance of achieving both goals.
For these reasons, I think that the time is right to formally establish, through legislation if
required, the rules of the road with respect to net neutrality. Accordingly, I have asked Mr.
Markey to add me as a cosponsor to H.R. 3458, The Internet Freedom Preservation Act. I will
also continue to support Chairman Boucher's efforts to lead willing parties to a negotiated
I also support the Commission's efforts to examine the state of competition in the
wireless industry. Most agree that the best protection for consumers is robust competition. And
while I recognize the competitive nature of the wireless industry, I do see some warning clouds
on the horizon. More specifically, I believe the FCC should act soon to resolve problems with
special access services, and certain roaming arrangements.
I want to thank the Commission for making public safety's needs a priority and initiating
a study of the options for the D Block. We must act soon to improve the state of pubic safety
communications, and I am anxious to review your plans and to work with you to ensure we find
the most effective way for the public safety community to obtain access to the spectrum it needs.
I am pleased that Chairman Boucher plans to hold a hearing on this topic in the very near future.
Clearly, I have only touched on a few of the critical issues before the new FCC. But I am
encouraged by the new spirit of comity and collaboration that you all espouse, and I am hopeful
that Congress will approach these important policy issues in the same manner.
I look forward to hearing your testimony.