Letter to Sen. Hutchison on Telecom Legislation

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006. (The "Phone Company Welfare Act of 2006" would be more truthful.) Senator Hutchison sits on this committee.

Dear Senator Hutchison,

Re: problems with S. 2686, the Communications, Consumers Choice and Broadband Deployment Act.

There are significant problems with S. 2686 that I hope can be remedied in committee. Your consideration of these matters would be greatly appreciated.

1. Net Neutrality - the providers of broadband access should not be allowed to utilize their duopoly position to discriminate on the basis of content or services. Innovative services such as Google, Ebay, and blogging occur because of the open nature of the platform. Don't allow the Internet to be like cellular phone service, where the access providers leverage their control to limit third party innovation.

2. Broadcast Flag - copy and content protection should be implemented through innovation, not legislation. And it certainly doesn't belong in a telecommunications bill. The broadcast and audio flag provisions are anti-consumer and anti-innovation and should not be snuck through the back door.

3. USF - we need a strong Universal Service Fund, but proposed expansions threaten to turn it into the worst form of corporate welfare. Please ensure that USF is administered fairly, and the intended purpose of basic access for all.

4. Local Provisions - there are a number of proposed amendments that would be greatly harmful to local communities. Please oppose provisions that would rollback franchise fees and PEG funding. Please support strengthened build-out and anti-redlining requirements.