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Senate hearing to review National Broadband Plan

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senate Hearing on Broadband Plan: Consumers Union Urges FCC Chair to “Keep His Shoulder to the Wheel”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Joel Kelsey, policy analyst for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, issued the following statement regarding today’s Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing to review the National Broadband Plan, featuring Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski:
“Chairman Genachowski’s appearance at the hearing today takes on critical new importance in light of the decision by a U.S. Circuit appeals court ruling last week.
“The court’s decision makes it more difficult for the FCC to implement several components of its highly-anticipated broadband plan, which promises to bring affordable, high-speed Internet service to millions of Americans who either can’t get it or can’t afford it.
“In siding with Comcast, the court said it believed the FCC lacked the authority to stop the company from blocking consumers from choosing to use the lawful software they wanted. The court’s ruling has cast a pall over the broadband plan by questioning the agency’s authority over Internet service providers such as Comcast.
“Chairman Genachowski should keep his shoulder to the wheel in implementing the broadband plan, and Congress should join him in that task, if necessary, to remove any ambiguity about the FCC’s authority to effectively regulate Internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.
“The primary agency charged with protecting consumers from anti-consumer practices by Internet service providers must have the authority to preserve the freedom of consumer choice over the Internet. Anything less is unacceptable.”
David Butler, 202-462-6262, dbutler@consumer.org
Consumers Union of United States, Inc., publisher of Consumer Reports®, is a nonprofit membership organization chartered in 1936 to provide consumers with information, education, and counsel about goods, services, health and personal finance. Consumers Union’s publications and services have a combined paid circulation of approximately 8.3 million. These publications regularly carry articles on Consumers Union’s own product testing; on health, product safety, and marketplace economics; and on legislative, judicial, and regulatory actions that affect consumer welfare. Consumers Union’s income is solely derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, its other publications and services, fees, noncommercial contributions and grants. Consumers Union’s publications and services carry no outside advertising and receive no commercial support.