It’s third and eighteen with less than a minute to go in the fourth. Genachowski takes the snap from center, drops back, and looks down field for his favorite receiver. Problem is that Clyburn, as quick as she is, is covered. Copps is running an underneath pattern and Genachowski, feeling the pressure from the defense, is forced to either eat the ball or hit Copps. Genachowski knows in his heart of hearts that while the wily old veteran is stout of heart, his ability to pick up yardage after the pass has long since left him.
Meanwhile, Rockefeller has been able to elude the corner and work his way downfield. He is waving his arms, hoping that Genachowski will see him and throw a pass that will get his team the first down. The coaches see it. The fans see it. Does Genachowski see it?
Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, has been waving his arms at FCC Chairman Genachowski for weeks now. The chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, in a letter to the FCC dated 2 August 2010, apparently signaled a way to treat broadband access services as common carrier without going through the itineration of coming up with new legislation.
In his letter, Mr. Rockefeller expressed the need for speed in deploying telecommunications and information services throughout rural West Virginia. Mr. Rockefeller cited section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, arguing that the FCC is directed by the statute to develop a universal service policy that provides consumers in rural, insular, and high-cost areas with access to telecommunications and information services reasonably comparable to services provided in urban areas.
In short, Mr. Rockefeller would like the FCC to use USF funds to finance the deployment of broadband services throughout rural West Virginia. Fair enough. The statute does say that the preservation and advancement of universal service should be based in part on the principle of access to advanced telecommunications and information services.
This is where, Mr. Rockefeller has to work his way down field. Before the FCC can use USF funds to finance broadband deployment, Congress will have to clean up section 254(c)(1) of the Communications Act. This section defines universal service as “an evolving level of telecommunications services that the Commission shall establish periodically under this section, taking into account advances in telecommunications and information technologies and services.
In other words, broadband access services, which are currently defined as information services, will have to be redefined as telecommunications services. It will take an act of Congress to change that definition. Even if Genachowski wants to toss the pigskin to Rockefeller, Rockefeller has to be prepared to catch it.