FCC Chairman Criticized Over Broadband Plans

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said Wednesday his agency has the authority to push ahead with its plans to expand broadband Internet access, as senators from both parties criticized his recently released National Broadband Plan.

Industry lobbyists on both sides of the broadband regulation debate are gearing up for what is expected to be an expensive lobbying fight over broadband regulation that will pit big telecommunications companies against Google Inc. (GOOG) and other Internet companies. Internet commerce companies generally support moves by the FCC to use its power to prevent phone and cable companies from driving up the cost of broadband service for companies. Internet service providers such as Comcast Corp. (CMCS) and phone companies want to head off rules that would force them to open their networks to rivals.

Congress isn’t expected to wade into the debate by passing legislation this year. But at a Senate hearing Wednesday, several said that new laws may be necessary.

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