The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for information to help the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee determine if the White House inappropriately influenced the FCC’s decision to regulate broadband Internet access under Title II of the Communications Act. See our blog Wheeler’s Net Neutrality Fact Sheet and Congressional Reaction dated 2/5/15.
The request was made in response to a Wall Street Journal story suggesting “the White House may have inappropriately influenced the FCC decision to regulate broadband like a public utility.”
Among the information and material requested to be produced by February 23, 2015, are the following:
- An explanation of the new factors or developments that led Mr. Wheeler to conclude that the commercially reasonable standard he supported in 2014 is no longer appropriate.
- An explanation of why Mr. Wheeler pulled back a draft proposal on a net neutrality order in 2014. Mr. Wheeler was asked to produce the draft proposal on net neutrality he planned to circulate in or around late November and early December 2014.
- Whether Mr. Wheeler or any other FCC employees had communications with employees or officials of the Executive Office of the President referring or relating to net neutrality, or other aspects of broadband service or service provider regulation, including dates, individuals involved, and all phone logs of any oral communications, including communications on mobile devices.
- All documents and communications between or among any employee of the FCC and employees of the Executive Office of the President referring or relating to net neutrality or broadband regulation for the period November 3, 2013, to the present.
Joining the conversation on Net Neutrality, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly released a Statement saying he is ”troubled by statements that the Net Neutrality item will grant broad forbearance from Title II, and I feel compelled to respond to these claims. The promised forbearance amounts to fauxbearance. The FCC fact sheet clearly states that the item leaves in place more than a dozen provisions that are central to common carrier regulation.” He said he was “equally troubled by the implications of section 201(a), which requires common carriers to provide service upon “reasonable request” and empowers the Commission to order carriers “to establish physical connections” and “through routes”. In other words, the Commission could demand that ISPs provide service, including interconnection. Nowhere in the fact sheet does the FCC disavow its intent to do so, so I must consider that it is a real possibility.”