June 13, 2006 Arlington, VA -- In testimony yesterday before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) president and CEO Dave McCurdy, speaking on behalf of Alliance Sector Partner the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), urged the Senate to craft legislation that ensures that broadband networks and services operate in a minimal regulatory environment.
If a bill such as the Stevens-Inouye bill is enacted this year that adequately addresses these issues, EIA and TIA believe it will "significantly accelerate broadband deployment and capture the consumer welfare benefits of competition in the cable TV space," McCurdy noted.
"Video service is the application driver for the deployment of next-generation broadband because video uses an enormous amount of bandwidth," he explained. Because of this, "telephone companies want to deploy video over new broadband networks to gain additional revenue as their core markets rapidly change."
Unfortunately, TIA believes the current local franchise process is a regulatory barrier to entry because it impedes timely investment in new facilities and capabilities, slowing delivery of competitive and innovative services to consumers.
EIA and TIA are supportive of the video franchising portion of the Stevens-Inouye draft legislation because it replaces the local franchising process with a uniform, federal system managed by the FCC with limited input from existing local franchise authorities.
As for the contentious issues surrounding net neutrality, TIA "fully understands concerns that have been expressed over the possibility of abuses in the marketplace," McCurdy admitted. "However, we do not believe significant evidence of abuses exist at this time that require preemptive legislation. Because the issue is so premature, TIA supports the study element of the approach taken in the Stevens-Inouye bill to answer a number of important questions before legislating."
TIA's "Broadband Internet Access Connectivity Principles" state that subscribers should be able to get the capacity for which they pay to connect to the Internet, access any content on the Internet as long as such content is lawful, use any applications they chose as long as such use does not hurt the network or other users, and attach to the network any device they choose as long as it does not harm the network.
"We believe that the FCC has jurisdiction to vigilantly monitor the broadband Internet access service market and expeditiously review any complaint of anticompetitive activity," McCurdy said. "We support the study element of the approach taken in the Stevens-Inouye bill and we urge the Committee to act quickly on video franchise reform and other issues on which there is a consensus so we can enact them this year. With such action, we can capture the benefits of accelerated broadband deployment and the consumer welfare benefits of competition now."