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Congressman warns FCC over meeting agenda

Fri, 11/19/2010 - 7:05am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) issued a thinly veiled warning to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski after a report suggested the agency chief may put net neutrality on the agenda for its open meeting next week when Congress is in recess.

"Since the December meeting agenda will be released next week when Congress is in recess, it appears that Chairman Genachowski is trying to slip it under the radar and hope no one notices," Stearns said. 

Stearns is currently the ranking Republican on the House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee and is reportedly jockeying for the leadership position of the House Energy and Commerce Committee when the Republicans take control of the House next year.

Politico reports that the agenda for the FCC's December open meeting, which will be released sometime next week, may take up the issue of the agency's authority over data roaming agreements.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have argued that the FCC lacks the legal authority to regulate wireless broadband Internet services and therefore can't force carriers into data roaming agreements. If the FCC reclassifies wireless broadband Internet services, it will be able to mandate data roaming agreements, as well as enforce its net neutrality agenda, which has met strident opposition from Republicans, the cable industry and the wireless industry.

Republican control of the House next year could hamper the FCC's efforts to move forward on the issue of net neutrality. The FCC's December meeting provides Genachowski with an opportunity to regain momentum for his net neutrality agenda, which has been bogged down by vehement lobbying on both sides of the issue.

Net neutrality was absent from the agency's agenda for its November open meeting, though Genachowski has not given any formal indication he is abandoning the effort.

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