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Markey Pledges Network Neutrality Fight

In a speech to the Consumer Federation of America in Washington Thursday, New House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) took aim at the U.S.'s broadband rollout strategy, or lack of it, at about the same tim FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was defending it in a Senate Commerce Committee FCC oversight hearing.

Markey said he planned an active agenda for the subcommittee--no surpise there--adding that a blueprint for affordable and ubiquitous broadband access was job one.

Markey and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) pushed for access conditions in a House video franchise reform bill in the last Congress, but were thwarted by the then-Republican majority. He also introduced a network neutrality amendment that also didn't make it onto the bill, which eventually died in the Senate anyway.

Citing statistics finding that the U.S. was either 21st or 16th in braodband subscribership--Martin had said the U.S. was 12th, Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps thought it was 21st--

"America needs a better plan," for broadband deployment, he said, "unfortunately, we are still at the stage that having any broadband plan at all would represent an improvement."

Markey said that better plan would have to include network neutrality provisions. He said he would fight for network neutrality, saying the battle was for the "future of innovation."

Markey's subcommittee will hold its FCC oversight hearing Feb. 15.