May 06, 2010, 1:16 PM — THE THIRD WAY: A NARROWLY TAILORED BROADBAND FRAMEWORK
Chairman Julius GenachowskiFederal Communications CommissionMay 6, 2010
Many have asked about the FCC’s next steps in view of the recent decision in the Comcast case. I’ll describe here a path forward, which will begin with seeking public comment on a post-Comcast legal foundation for the FCC’s approach to broadband communications services. The goal is to restore the broadly supported status quo consensus that existed prior to the court decision on the FCC’s role with respect to broadband Internet service.
This statement describes a framework to support policies that advance our global competitiveness and preserve the Internet as a powerful platform for innovation, free speech, and job creation. I remain open to all ideas on the best approach to achieve our country’s vital goals with respect to high-speed broadband for all Americans, and the Commission proceeding to follow will seek comment on multiple legal theories and invite new ideas.
The FCC’s Mission
More than 75 years ago, Congress created the Federal Communications Commission with an explicit mission: “to make available, so far as possible, to all people of the United States . . . A rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communications service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges, for the purpose of the national defense, [and] for the purpose of promoting the safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communication.”
In the decades since, the technologies of communications have changed and evolved—from telephone, radio, and broadcast TV to cable, satellite, mobile phones, and now broadband Internet. With the guidance of Congress, the Commission has tailored its approach to each of these technologies. But the basic goals have been constant: to encourage private investment and the building of a communications infrastructure that reaches all Americans wherever they live; to pursue meaningful access to that infrastructure for economic and educational opportunity and for full participation in our democracy; to protect and empower consumers; to promote competition; to foster innovation, economic growth, and job creation; and to protect Americans’ safety.
The Consensus Understanding of the FCC’s Role with Respect to Broadband
A challenge for the FCC in recent years has been how to apply the time-honored purposes of the Communications Act to our 21st Century communications platform—broadband Internet—access to which is generally provided by the same companies that provide telephone and cable television services.