FCC commissioners convene at CMU

July 21, 2008
Business Times

The Federal Communications Commission headed to Carnegie Mellon University Monday to take public and expert input on the future of Internet access.

In an uncommon public appearance together outside of Washington, D.C., the federal agency’s five commissioners headed two panels at the university on issues related to digital media and broadband access. Participants included Dallas Mavericks owner and Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban, who is chairman and co-founder of the high-definition television channel HDNet; American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka; and John Heffner of Carnegie Mellon spinout Conviva, an Internet-based video distributor.

The panelists raised questions and possible solutions about Internet piracy laws, government regulation and telecommunication companies’ monopolies on broadband access. Of particular concern were these issues’ impact on low-income consumers and start-up entrepreneurs.

“The beauty of the Internet is that it’s chaotic and always evolving,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Swissvale Democrat, who introduced the commissioners. “The decisions you (FCC commissioners) make in the future will determine whether the potential the Internet holds for improving our lives and our society is fully achieved.”

The FCC is investigating complaints against cable and telephone networks’ management of broadband traffic, including allegations the companies blocked e-mails and interfered with peer-to-peer traffic. The agency has held similar hearings this year at Stanford and Harvard universities.