WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--A senior House Republican on Tuesday
asked Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius
Genachowski to stop a commission vote, slated for Thursday, on
proposed open Internet rules.
House Energy and Commerce Ranking Republican Joe Barton of Texas
said in a letter to Genachowski that the rules could have
"potentially catastrophic effects on investment and deployment
of broadband services throughout the country."
The rules would prevent Internet companies such as Comcast Corp.
(CMCSA), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and AT&T Inc. (T) from
selectively blocking or slowing certain Web content and would
require providers to disclose how they manage their networks.
Barton's letter is just the latest in a flurry of protests sent
to the FCC about the proposed rules.
Big telcos warn that new regulations will hamper their
considerable investment in Internet networks around the country,
putting in danger a top priority of President Barack Obama to
blanket the country with high-speed Internet.
But other Internet companies like Google Inc. (GOOG), Amazon.com
Inc. (AMZN), Facebook, and Twitter argue that the rules will
preserve the Internet's fundamentally competitive marketplace.
"This allows businesses of all sizes, from the smallest startup
to larger corporations, to compete, yielding maximum economic
growth and opportunity," 24 companies said in a letter to the
FCC earlier this week.
The aggressive lobbying on both sides of the issue isn't likely
to change the outcome of the FCC vote. The proposed rules
fulfill a campaign promise from Obama, and Genachowski has more
or less secured the support of the two other Democrats on the
Advocates for the open Internet proposal say the capital
expenditures from Internet companies far outweigh the broadband
network investments of a few Internet service providers.
Still, Barton's letter makes pointed reference to concerns
floating around the telecom community about the rules, namely
that the proposal includes "a rigid rule of nondiscrimination
which could significantly impede the ability of communications
companies to provide consumers with the Internet services they
desire and currently receive."
The rules will also apply to the wireless sector, which
previously hadn't seen any rigorous oversight. Barton said the
rules could "retard the deployment" of mobile Internet.