It was announced today that two top Democratic legislators would begin the task of modernizing telecommunications laws that were last overhauled in 1996.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in a joint statement that they would hold meetings in June to examine how the Communications Act meets the current needs of consumers, the telecommunications industry and the FCC.
An overhaul has long been needed, but the issue gained steam after an April ruling by a federal appeals court that said the FCC had overstepped its boundaries in applying a portion of the Communications Act to an Internet service provider.
As a result, the FCC announced a plan this month to reclassify broadband Internet service, which is now lightly regulated as an “information service,” meaning it would then be classified as a “telecommunications service” similar to basic telephone service. This would therefore come under more scrutiny by the agency.
The government is trying to get a further reach for its National Broadband Plan, and more authority to enforce net neutrality, which is the concept that Internet service providers must provide consumers with equal access to all types of content and applications.
This is interesting from a mobile perspective, as it signifies what’s to come for the mobile industry as well. The mobile ecosystem desperately needs a form of neutrality as well, and the steps being taken now may signify the beginning.