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Clyburn Focused On Wireless Portion Of Net Neutrality Draft

Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn signaled Thursday (Dec. 9) that she is ready to support a version of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's network neutrality order, scheduled for a vote Dec. 21, but that she is focused on its application to wireless broadband.

In a speech to a Practising Law Institute conference in Washington, she said that she hopes the commissioners could reach consensus that "affords all stakeholders a perfect opportunity to work toward a solution that, while not perfect, is just right for consumers and the future of the online universe."

That echoed language in a letter to Clyburn from Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) Thursday asking her to support the chairman's Title I approach to expanding and codifying network openness guidelines. "Some advocates for what we consider to be "the perfect" are now urging you to fight and vote against the good," Kerry had written Clyburn. "I would argue that is shortsighted." But Kerry and Clyburn appeared to be seeing eye-to-eye.

She said her office would be working "day and night" until Dec. 21 to achieve her Christmas wish of consensus on the item, which seemed unlikely given the strong opposition from the Republican members of the commission. Clyburn said she thought the draft was "pretty close to a consensus item," though she may have been referring to finding consensus among the Democrats given Commissioner Michael Copps' strong preference for the chairman's original Title II approach to clarifying the FCC's broadband regulatory authority.

According to FCC sources, the draft proposal only applies transparency and non-blocking rules to wireless. Clyburn signaled that would be one of the items that would need work toward that consensus.

"My focus over the coming days will be to ensure that we are thinking through the implications of the wireless piece of the item," she said. "While I recognize that there are distinctions between wired and wireless networks, I think it is essential that our wireless networks—those of the present and future—grow in an open way just as our wired ones have."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.