FCC makes first step toward broadband regulation changes

The FCC voted late last week to accept public comments on Chairman Julius Genachowski's idea to reclassify broadband service as a common-carrier service so that the commission can legally impose net neutrality regulations on wireless and wired broadband networks.

The commission voted 3-2 to move forward. It wants to obtain public comments on whether it should reclassify broadband and how it might be done. The notice seeks comment on three options: whether the FCC should keep the status quo, and classify broadband as an information service; whether it should apply all of the common carrier rules to broadband; or whether the commission should classify broadband as a common carrier service but "forbear" from many of Title II's provisions. It also seeks comments on other alternatives. Initial comments are due July 15, and reply comments are due Aug. 12.

Like many FCC proposals, this is just the beginning of a longer process. The FCC will have to examine the findings of the notice and then vote on its next move. Additionally, this proceeding is separate from the draft net neutrality rules the FCC adopted last October.
And there is sure to be a major battle with the majority of wired and wireless telcos that adamantly oppose net neutrality rules applied to their networks.

Genachowski's proposal stems from a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in April that said the FCC overstepped its statutory authority when it cited Comcast in 2008 for interfering with subscribers' access to peer-to-peer file sharing services. The ruling, Comcast v. FCC,  said the FCC could not rely on its "ancillary jurisdiction" under Title I of the Telecommunications Act to regulate how Comcast managed its network.

For more:
- see this FierceWireless article

Related articles:
AT&T, Verizon join Google in net neutrality group
FCC to discuss net neutrality at June 17 meeting
FCC's Genachowski charts way forward on net neutrality
What's next for net neutrality?

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