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Rockefeller Backs Broadband Date Delay

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has come out in
favor of the FCC's request for more time to complete its broadband plan.

"Congress tasked the Federal Communications Commission
to develop a national broadband plan to make sure all Americans have access to
broadband and to establish benchmarks to reach that goal," Rockefeller
said in a statement. "Broadband access is enormously critical to our
country's economic growth and can significantly improve countless lives by
expanding employment opportunities, health care, education and government
services.  Crafting an effective national broadband plan is a challenging
and important task.  Chairman Genachowski has indicated that a short delay
is necessary to qualitatively improve the plan.  I support his

The FCC was getting support Thursday (Jan. 7) from various
quarters for its request for another four weeks to finish the broadband plan
(it had been due Feb. 17).

According to sources, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.)
ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee was said to be OK with the
delay so long as the result at the end of the day was a report with meat on the
bone and not just a "plan for a plan."

A House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry
Waxman (D-Calif.) had not returned calls for comment at press time.

Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior VP of federal and regulatory
affairs, called it a reasonable request and said the company supported the

"The FCC's broadband team has been working virtually 24
hours a day, collecting enormous amounts of data to develop a comprehensive
broadband plan for the country," he said. "If Chairman Genachowski
believes that the Commission needs an additional 30 days to work on the plan,
then that is certainly a reasonable request and one we fully support. The most
important thing is getting this right, not meeting a deadline."

Public Knowledge, frequently on the other side of arguments
from AT&T, was on the same page. "We are pleased that the FCC has
decided to take the extra time it needs to complete the National Broadband
Plan. This is a very complex undertaking that will be crucial for the
development of the American economy," said Public Knowledge President Gigi
Sohn, adding that she hoped the FCC would use the time to develop a
"bold" strategy to increase choice and spur new content and services.