I sit on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over telecommunications policy issues, and I have been active on the committee for a number of years in working on Internet, radio, television, cable, and other telecommunications-related topics.
I have been especially interested in ensuring that federal policies truly promote competition and innovation in telecommunications services – and that those policies provide the greatest possible benefit to consumers through newer and better services and lower prices.
With those goals in mind, I have been a staunch defender of net neutrality policies. These protections can ensure that tomorrow’s content innovators can continue to launch and grow new online applications and services, without having to worry that the transmission of their data might be unfairly limited or blocked by Internet service providers. While online businesses will always compete for audiences, these important rules can make sure that they will do so on a fair and level playing field.
In December 2010, the Federal Communications Commission voted to enact net neutrality protections for wireline Internet services, such as cable or DSL. While I am heartened that the Commission took action on this important issue, I don’t think the rules were strong enough. I am particularly concerned that they don’t apply to wireless, an especially vibrant market for innovation. I worry that without net neutrality protections, mobile technologies might slowly become closed off from new apps and other new ideas. I will continue to pay close attention to the development of the wireless market.
In 2011, the “Local Community Radio Act
” – legislation I introduced to substantially increase the number of low power FM radio licenses the FCC could issue – was signed into law. These small but important community radio stations will provide locally-generated programs in cities and towns nationwide, enriching our radio dials with content created by musicians, ethnic groups, news reporters, public service officials, educators, and countless other community voices.
In 2008, my “Do Not Call Improvement Act”
– legislation that repealed the requirement that consumers sign up for the federal Do Not Call list every 5 years – was enacted into law. With this law, individuals can remain free from unsolicited calls by telemarketers until they choose to remove their names from the list.
With my colleagues Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), I sent a letter to the FCC in March 2011 to encourage the agency to enact rules regarding roaming for wireless data services. The FCC responded to our request, voting to pass rules on this issue in April 2011. These rules will ensure more seamless wireless data services, which consumers have come to expect. They will also spur investment into new wireless infrastructure, creating more jobs, enhancing competition, and providing greater consumer choice.
I will continue to be actively involved in ongoing efforts to make broadband Internet more available and affordable for all Americans.