Schrader joins Walden in voting to block FCC Internet takeover

by John in Oregon

FCC Internet Regulation, Phase 2.0

Last Friday (Apr 8, 2011) the House of Representatives voted to pass House Joint Resolution 37, the Resolution of Disapproval of the FCC Internet takeover.  The resolution, which exercises congressional oversight of delegated authority, passed by a vote of: 238 to 174.

Voting to keep Internet policy-making authority with Congress, Rep. Greg Walden [R OR] was joined by Rep. Kurt Schrader [D OR].  Voting to hand over Internet policy making decisions to the FCC were Reps. David Wu [D OR], Earl Blumenauer [D OR], and Peter DeFazio [D OR].

Joining Rep. Schrader in voting in favor of congressional oversight were Reps. Collin Peterson [D MN], Heath Shuler [D NC], and Dan Boren [D OK].  Fourteen Democrats did not vote.

The focus on the Joint Resolution of Disapproval now shifts to the Senate.

FCC Update

Under cover of the media focus on the budget, the FCC acted last Thursday to impose monopoly regulations on wireless vendors.  The FCC action extends the December takeover, which covered broadband fiber, cable, and DSL but not wireless.

Last December’s FCC action was taken in order to impose broadband Internet controls upon Comcast.  In a similar move, Thursday’s decision asserts wireless monopoly regulation with a facade of a data-roaming rule.  Cnet reports:

The Federal Communications Commission may soon set new rules that could help ensure that your smartphone is able to access the Internet anywhere in the U.S. that wireless service is offered, even if your provider doesn’t offer network coverage.

Normally, wireless companies negotiate agreements with other wireless companies to provide fill in coverage.  The Daily Caller reports

Currently, mobile broadband carriers enter into contractual agreements to, in the case of small companies, “rent” network space; and in the case of large carriers, “lease” available network space.

The industry source told The DC the rule could hamper future growth. “If other companies get sort of mandatory low prices for data roaming, then that doesn’t necessarily increase incentives for them to build networks in those areas,” said the source. “There would never be an incentive to build networks anywhere else.”

Seton Motley a propionate of free markets said:

The FCC’s contempt for the free market, this Congress and the Constitution continues unabated. Today’s vote to unnecessarily and illegally insert itself into the otherwise very successful world of inter-provider data roaming agreements is incredibly destructive – and obnoxious.

The FCC move to add wireless to its monopoly regulations creates a system of corporate regulatory welfare. Reporting described the roaming rule as:

Another big story at the FCC is apparently a very old story in the regulatory world. A competitive loser is seeking government help to overcome its market deficiencies. Sprint stopped investing in its wireless network…  Should Sprint be allowed to make up for that by getting the government to force a special deal?

This is the very definition of crony capitalism.  Companies like Sprint seek favors from FCC.  The FCC rewards them with a “regulatory bailout.”  In turn they become more dependent upon, and supportive of, increased regulations.  Other entrepreneurs are intimidated to go along in hopes of influencing less punitive regulation.  The market environment deteriorates, becoming more anti-competitive.

What happens next in response to the latest FCC gauntlet is at the moment unclear.  Christopher Null, a tech writer at Yahoo news captured the essence when he wrote:

Congress and constituents still maintain a strong hands-off/deregulation sentiment.  Probably more to the point: The FCC is, in a nutshell, attempting to wrest control from the legislative and judiciary branches.  Democrat or Republican, not a lot of politicians are likely to be itching to jump on that wagon.

click here for a Brief chronological history of the FCC’s attempt to control the Internet