Genachowski Tells Congress He Will Consider Closing Title II Docket

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Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski Thursday told House Communications Subcommittee members he would consider closing the Title II docket.

That was the FCC's original proposal to reclassify Internet access service as a telecommunications service, subject to common carrier regulations. ISPs had termed that the nuclear option and the FCC ultimately struck compromise network neutrality rules that avoided dropping that bomb by relying on Title I authority. But it did not close the Title II docket.

Republicans have expressed concern that if the FCC loses a court challenge to its Title I-based compromise net neutrality rules, it could move quickly to assert Title II authority.

At a budget oversight hearing, Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden asked him to close it and the chairman said he would at least consider it.

Walden pointed out the docket had been open since 2009 -- the compromise rules were approved in Dec. 2010. "Why is it still open," he asked, tying it to the budget by also asking how many employees were currently working on the docket. Genachowski said he was not aware of any employees working on the docket. "Why not close it," asked Walden. "It is something that we will consider. We have been focused on USF." Walden cut him off saying: "You're here, we can consider it now."

Genachowkski said it was "something I will discuss with my staff."

Genachowski did not repeat the defense of the open docket that he made to the full Energy & Commerce Committee back in March 2011. At that time he argued that keeping it open was to collect info that could be useful to Congress as a resource for updating the Communications Act, "as many in Congress and the private sector have suggested is needed," he said at the time.

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