Washington, DC — Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler gave a speech at 1776, a startup incubator in Washington, D.C. The Chairman recognized the need to define broadband access so that it reflects the present and future needs of users, and he highlighted the Commission’s role in protecting and encouraging competition in broadband markets. His remarks have implications for multiple proceedings at the FCC, including the Commission's review of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable transaction and the Open Internet proceeding.
The following statement can be attributed to Sarah Morris, Senior Policy Counsel for the Open Technology Institute at New America:
“Broadband capacity needs are growing by the day, and we commend the Chairman for recognizing that this growth requires a change in the definition of what constitutes adequate broadband access. We hope that the FCC will consider the stronger definition of broadband that Chairman Wheeler put forward today in other proceedings and policy debates, and particularly as it conducts its review of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable transaction.
“Chairman Wheeler’s emphasis on protecting and encouraging competition is also laudable, as it can help pave the way for new broadband providers to enter the market, and can have additional, positive impacts on the quality of broadband service that communities ultimately receive.
“However, some problems cannot be solved by competition alone, as the Chairman also noted. This is why, in addition to calling on the Commission to make sure that local, community-owned broadband networks can flourish, the Open Technology Institute has also called on the FCC to implement strong network neutrality protections that are grounded in sound Title II authority. Harmful discrimination can occur even in competitive markets, and particularly in broadband markets where last-mile ISPs have the ability to serve as gatekeepers to content that consumers wish to access.
“We therefore hope that the Chairman is prepared not just to intervene where competition fails, but also where competition alone will not fully protect consumers.”