House GOP Leader Slams Martin


Washington -- House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is accusing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin of engaging in “heavy-handed” regulation of the Internet by telling network owners how to manage traffic on their systems.

In a letter to Martin on Thursday, Boehner said the FCC should let market participants with engineering know-how to determine the best way to manage network congestion.

“Your heavy-handed attempts to inject the FCC into the middle of that process threatens to hijack the evolution of the Internet to everyone's detriment,” Boehner said.

Martin aides and other FCC personnel, who were sent a copy of the Boehner letter, did not offer an immediate response.

Boehner's letter arrived at the FCC one day before the agency is expected to vote that Comcast violated federal policy by secretly degrading file sharing applications.

Martin, a Republican appointee of President Bush, is expected to vote with FCC Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein to brand Comcast an Internet outlaw.

In recent years, Martin has teamed up several times with the two FCC Democrats in order to prevail over FCC Republicans Robert McDowell and Deborah Taylor Tate.

Martin has done mainly to be able to barrage cable operators and programmers with new regulations, a tug-of-war that has led to at least 10 lawsuits in about three years.

Comcast has denied Martin's repeated allegation that the company blocked peer-to-peer traffic. The company has said it only delayed P2P transmissions, which take up large amounts of bandwidth, during peak hours to ensure optimal Web surfing for the vast majority of customers.

The FCC is planning to discipline Comcast for violating its Internet policy statement adopted in August 2005, which Martin said at the time wasn't a rule and wasn't enforceable. The agency is not expected to hand out any fines.

In his letter, Boehner questioned the FCC's legal basis for acting against Comcast.

“Adding insult injury, it appears you are wading into this debate on very shaky procedural legal grounds,” Boehner said. “I urge you [to] return to a sound market-oriented approach rather than continue down the path you have chosen.”