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FCC loses Comcast's court challenge, a major setback for agency on Internet policies

Comcast on Tuesday won its federal lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission in a ruling that undermines the agency's ability to regulate Internet service providers just as it unrolls a sweeping broadband agenda.

The decision also sparks pressing questions on how the agency will respond, with public interest groups advocating that the FCC attempt to move those services into a regulatory regime clearly under the agency's control.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to require Comcast, the nation's biggest broadband services provider, to treat all Internet traffic equally on its network.

That decision -- based on a 2008 ruling under former FCC chairman Kevin Martin -- addresses Comcast's argument that the agency didn't follow proper procedures and that it "failed to justify exercising jurisdiction" when it ruled Comcast violated broadband principles by blocking or slowing a peer-sharing Web site, Bit Torrent.

But it also unleashed a broader debate over the agency's ability to regulate broadband service providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications.

The judges focused on whether the FCC has legal authority over broadband services, which are categorized separately from phone, cable television and wireless services. The agency currently has only "ancillary authority" over broadband services, a decision made by past agency leaders in an attempt to keep the fast-moving Internet services market at an arm's distance from the agency.

A key part of the opinion:

The Commission may exercise this "ancillary" authority only if it demonstrates that its action . . . is "reasonably ancillary to the ... effective performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities." The Commission has failed to make that showing.

The court's decision comes just days before the agency accepts final comments on a separate open Internet regulatory effort this Thursday. And the agency will be faced with a steep legal challenge going forward as it attempts to convert itself from a broadcast- and phone-era agency into one that draws new rules for the Internet era.

Andrew Schwartzman, policy director for Media Access Project, said the ruling "represents a severe restriction on the FCC's powers."

Public interest groups have urged the agency to reclassify broadband services so that they are more concretely under the agency's authority. The FCC has been reluctant to say if it would do so, and a spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Analysts said the agency may not be able to proceed on its net neutrality policy -- a rule that Internet service providers have fought against. And there is doubt the agency could reform an $8 billion federal phone subsidy to include money to bring broadband services to rural areas.

Bruce Mehlman, former assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy, however, said the decision may help speed the development of faster and more robust networks.

"It may drive greater investment in broadband networks by removing regulatory uncertainty and perceived disincentives to invest in infrastructure," Mehlman said.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 6, 2010; 10:55 AM ET
 
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Next: Three options for the FCC

Comments

This is very bad news indeed!

Posted by: Jihm | April 6, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States.

Without some source of federal control and monitoring, deceitful and customer-indifferent firms like Comcast and Verizon can continue to pretend to provide connections that average even 3 to 4 megabits per second.

Posted by: kinkysr | April 6, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Undermines" What? All the court did was correct an unlawful and overly aggressive FCC ruling. The FCC wasn't somehow entitled to do what it did, and the court forced it to back off.
Undermine? Bah. The FCC over-reached and was caught. Good.
Federal agencies aren't to use the courts to establish how far they can go. They are to simply follow the law, not try and set it.
Undermine? No. Establish.

And "so-called net neutrality?" Why the negative reference? If you don't like the term coin a new one. But why try and paint this as a perjorative? It's just a term.

My goodness. Report, just report. If you want to express opinion, write for the Op-Ed page. Or at least declare your bias instead of using smears.

Posted by: LoveIB | April 6, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Another nail in the coffin of the American consumer. Wanna bet the judge is a republipig nominee?

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | April 6, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Simple solution: If you're not getting good internet service from Comcast, change providers. Just boycott Comcast.

Posted by: clairevb | April 6, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

If you subscribe to Comcast, now is the time to make your statement by dropping your Comcast service and subscribing to something better.

Here's a clue: ANYTHING you subscribe to will certainly be better than Comcast.

Bankrupt them.

But how did you expect the D.C. Circuit Court to rule? They're the most boneheadedly partisan, biased, arch-rightwing court in the whole country. They will rule in favor of power over people every single time no matter what the subject matter.

This now becomes an urgent matter for legislation, if we can get past the childish and petulant Republican obstructionism.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 6, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Make no mistake - if the US fails to preserve Internet Neutrality every one will suffer. The cost of maintaining a website may easily become so excessive that only those sites currently with significant traffic and/or exceptional financial resources will be able to effectively operate outside the spheres of their particular hosting company's reach.

The implications are horrendous. If Congress fails to effect useful legislation that endows an agency with the power to enforce this important fundamental concept to ensure the free flow of data.

For those of you unfamiliar with the potential fall-out should neutrality not be enforced, websites could soon be forced to pay on a per view basis for each page retrieved - not just once - but at every juncture where the data flow changes hands - this could be 1/2 dozen times or more on the way to your system.

Think about how that could effectively snuff out innovation (whether you know it or not - much of the programming advances made to make the Net even easier to use were started by independent programmers without much money to invest - yet everyone has clearly benefited) and myriad start-ups of many kinds.

This is a disaster waiting to happen.

Posted by: TPartier | April 6, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken.

Posted by: luncheaterguy | April 6, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

so now corporation money can decide how internet traffic is handled and suppress or push information based on it's own agenda on systems that are set up basically as a monopoly in most communities.

Posted by: olemanmose | April 6, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

clairevb,
What about those people that have no other option? If you can pick and choose YOUR internet providers you should consider yourself lucky.

Posted by: JessefromMO | April 6, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

It just amazes me that there are so many hammerheads out there who seem to think the answer to EVERYTHING is more government control! Give it a rest, fellow travelers, and try to stand on your own two feet for a while without using Uncle Sammy as a crutch (or a wet nurse).

http://johngalt.podomatic.com/

Posted by: JohnGaltPodcast | April 6, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

This is great news. Obama's attempt to control all aspects of our lives needs to be stopped.

Posted by: Mahakala | April 6, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Yay!

Ring that Liberty bell loud and clear!!!

Posted by: jloiacon | April 6, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

LoveIB:

You are so not knowledgeable about this situation that I won't even waste my time on a point-by-point reply. But I will point out that the FCC didn't "use the courts to establish how far" it can go -- Comcast took the matter to court.

As for your line, "Report, just report. If you want to express opinion, write for the Op-Ed page." -- this IS an opinion piece, Ms. Kang's take on the issue. Her use of "so-called net neutrality" isn't a perjorative; it's the layperson's term that people use instead of the FCC's title.

Given what every reasonable Internet user/consumer thinks of this matter, I can only conclude from your comments that you are somehow connected to the Internet-provider industry. This is NOT in any way a good thing for Internet users, especially those of us whose businesses rely on high-speed service.

Posted by: Andrew53 | April 6, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

It just amazes me that there are so many hammerheads out there who seem to think the answer to EVERYTHING is more government control! Give it a rest, fellow travelers, and try to stand on your own two feet for a while without using Uncle Sammy as a crutch (or a wet nurse).

http://johngalt.podomatic.com/

Posted by: JohnGaltPodcast | April 6, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

LoveIB:

You are so not knowledgeable about this situation that I won't even waste my time on a point-by-point reply. But I will point out that the FCC didn't "use the courts to establish how far" it can go -- Comcast took the matter to court.

As for your line, "Report, just report. If you want to express opinion, write for the Op-Ed page." -- this IS an opinion piece, Ms. Kang's take on the issue. Her use of "so-called net neutrality" isn't a perjorative; it's the layperson's term that people use instead of the FCC's title.

Given what every reasonable Internet user/consumer thinks of this matter, I can only conclude from your comments that you are somehow connected to the Internet-provider industry. This is NOT in any way a good thing for Internet users, especially those of us whose businesses rely on high-speed service.

Posted by: Andrew53 | April 6, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Yay!

Ring that Liberty bell loud and clear!!!

Posted by: jloiacon | April 6, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The corporate march continues over the consumer. And leaving Comcast for another company dosen't do a thing if Comcast controls the wiring and fiber optics.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 6, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Or this could be a case of Comcast winning a battle but losing the war if Congress steps in and updates the FCC charter. People should complain to Congress; might take awhile but bet on it, Comcast will overstep.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 6, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Or this could be a case of Comcast winning a battle but losing the war if Congress steps in and updates the FCC charter. People should complain to Congress; might take awhile but bet on it, Comcast will overstep.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 6, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Or this could be a case of Comcast winning a battle but losing the war if Congress steps in and updates the FCC charter. People should complain to Congress; might take awhile but bet on it, Comcast will overstep.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 6, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I would GLADLY (and quickly) drop Comcast as my cable/internet provider. Unfortunately, where I live they're the only game in town.

Posted by: cbyebyefraser | April 6, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

This is good news. "Net Neutrality" is a con. This is an attempt by the left wing to destroy freedom of speech on the internet. This is being pushed by organizations like "Free Press." Free Press is a Marxist/Socialist organization - marxists & socialist have never been big on real "free speech"

Posted by: pdjskm | April 6, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Now because of this you will be paying to surf the Internet on a per click basis.

Ports will be closed, web sites the Conservatives don't like will load slow to load or you will be blocked from their content all together. (unless you pay extra)

Want to watch that streaming TV show?

Well either pay Comcast extra or that port is blocked or you can slowed down to 56k speed!

This will slow or STOP all independent development for the United States too. What is the point in building a network people in the US can't access?

All those cool little apps for your Internet ready phone...get ready to pay EXTRA to use them now too!

The LA Times has already started...you MUST BELONG to a Corporate partner social network site to comment on any story on the LA Times now!!!

This is going to get worse!!!

The American people will end up paying a HUGE PRICE for this ruling.

We will not only fall behind the rest of the world (in terms of Internet use & availability) but Internet FREEDOM IS AT STAKE TOO!!!

Want to blog...You will pay extra for those ports soon!!

Give a corporation a dime and they will force you to pay ten dollars for that dime usage!!!

Posted by: imZandor | April 6, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

This is very bad news.

Posted by: upland_bill | April 6, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Or this could be a case of Comcast winning a battle but losing the war if Congress steps in and updates the FCC charter. People should complain to Congress; might take awhile but bet on it, Comcast will overstep.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 6, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@clairevb/FergusonFoont: All of us Americans who don't live in a major metro area like DC and the MD/VA suburbs typically don't have a choice of providers. Here in central KY, if you're fortunate enough to have cable TV, you can choose between your cable system or your local phone service - otherwise, it's your local phone company...and you're lucky to get broadband through the phone company unless you live in the city. My DSL service through BellSouth (my only choice, no cable here) has a maximum offered speed of 6Mbps - a far cry from the 18Mbps+ that I've seen posted from users in Chicago, NY, or other areas.

Posted by: EricPoston | April 6, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I've had Verizon DSL for almost 10 years and have had zero issues. I can't say the same about my Comcrap cable. During snowpocalypse, Comcrap services were out for more than a week. Luckily we had the Internet to entertain ourselves.

Seriously, if someone took a poll of Comcrap customers, I bet the majority would say they would pick a different provider. I would be with satellite tv in a heartbeat but I live at the bottom of a hill with a tree-laden park behind us.

Posted by: mediajunky | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

luncheaterguy, I think you should rail against yourself for stupidity on this issue. Or, perhaps, simply ignorance.

Comcast and other cable companies want to set up a system to charge you -- not for your currently "expensive" $30/month very reliable DSL/cable connection to the internet -- for access to specific websites, just as their cable TV system charges you for access to "extended cable" channels and "premium cable" channels.

With Comcast able to do what it wants, your $30 every month MIGHT get you access to, say, 100 websites on the internet. If you want to access more websites or those not included in Comcast's cheap "package", you'll have to pay Comcast to get a bigger more inclusive "package", most likely tiered at many different levels so that you, the Comcast defender, can now pay BIG BUCKS to get right back to where you are today -- access to EVERYTHING on the internet.

Get educated, dude. "Net Neutrality" means that once you get access to the web, you get it all, including the specific website that currently charge you to enter it -- NOT what Comcast layers on top of the existing internet and charges you fees to gain access. NOBODY except Comcast & other internet service providers benefits from letting them set up a tiered-access system like they've done for television, NOBODY. Your $30 might get you Google, but not the websites your Google search presents to you.

Posted by: PattiFink1 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

It just amazes me that there are so many hammerheads out there who seem to think the answer to EVERYTHING is more government control! Give it a rest, fellow travelers, and try to stand on your own two feet for a while without using Uncle Sammy as a crutch (or a wet nurse).

http://johngalt.podomatic.com/

Posted by: JohnGaltPodcast | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Folks need to be a little less emotional and look at the big picture. If we don't like the way Comcast and others are headed, then we can either use the market to force change, or encourage Congress to pass laws.

What we must not do, however, is ask the courts to approve bad, unlawful behavior by any government entity just because we happen to agree with those actions.

Take the big picture - that's a recipe for losing what we have.

You want this changed? Quit griping when the court makes a prudent decision, and write your congressmen. And BTW, I think we do need changes in our Internet options, including more regulations. I just want it all done right.

Posted by: dogbreath1 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Yay!

Ring that Liberty bell loud and clear!!!

Posted by: jloiacon | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

luncheaterguy, I think you should rail against yourself for stupidity on this issue. Or, perhaps, simply ignorance.

Comcast and other cable companies want to set up a system to charge you -- not for your currently "expensive" $30/month very reliable DSL/cable connection to the internet -- for access to specific websites, just as their cable TV system charges you for access to "extended cable" channels and "premium cable" channels.

With Comcast able to do what it wants, your $30 every month MIGHT get you access to, say, 100 websites on the internet. If you want to access more websites or those not included in Comcast's cheap "package", you'll have to pay Comcast to get a bigger more inclusive "package", most likely tiered at many different levels so that you, the Comcast defender, can now pay BIG BUCKS to get right back to where you are today -- access to EVERYTHING on the internet.

Get educated, dude. "Net Neutrality" means that once you get access to the web, you get it all, including the specific website that currently charge you to enter it -- NOT what Comcast layers on top of the existing internet and charges you fees to gain access. NOBODY except Comcast & other internet service providers benefits from letting them set up a tiered-access system like they've done for television, NOBODY. Your $30 might get you Google, but not the websites your Google search presents to you.

Posted by: PattiFink1 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

luncheaterguy, I think you should rail against yourself for stupidity on this issue. Or, perhaps, simply ignorance.

Comcast and other cable companies want to set up a system to charge you -- not for your currently "expensive" $30/month very reliable DSL/cable connection to the internet -- for access to specific websites, just as their cable TV system charges you for access to "extended cable" channels and "premium cable" channels.

With Comcast able to do what it wants, your $30 every month MIGHT get you access to, say, 100 websites on the internet. If you want to access more websites or those not included in Comcast's cheap "package", you'll have to pay Comcast to get a bigger more inclusive "package", most likely tiered at many different levels so that you, the Comcast defender, can now pay BIG BUCKS to get right back to where you are today -- access to EVERYTHING on the internet.

Get educated, dude. "Net Neutrality" means that once you get access to the web, you get it all, including the specific website that currently charge you to enter it -- NOT what Comcast layers on top of the existing internet and charges you fees to gain access. NOBODY except Comcast & other internet service providers benefits from letting them set up a tiered-access system like they've done for television, NOBODY. Your $30 might get you Google, but not the websites your Google search presents to you.

Posted by: PattiFink1 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You do not like Comcast service - sign for other or create a new network. Why should minority that uses multigigabyte downloads slow down the service for the rest of the users? SJC was completely right - this is private network and if you do not like it create a new one.

By the way, I neither use Comcast or work there

Posted by: igorkh | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken.
----------------------------

Oh really?

Another ostrich eh? Look around fool - we are get our butts kicked by South Korea and many other countries. You obviously are not entrenched in the industry as are many who are posting here are - unless you are a shill for the giant telecoms.

You would not even be able to post on this site if developers like myself could not have communicated affordably over the past twenty years creating the programming code that drives this bus.

Posted by: TPartier | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

LoveIB:

You are so not knowledgeable about this situation that I won't even waste my time on a point-by-point reply. But I will point out that the FCC didn't "use the courts to establish how far" it can go -- Comcast took the matter to court.

As for your line, "Report, just report. If you want to express opinion, write for the Op-Ed page." -- this IS an opinion piece, Ms. Kang's take on the issue. Her use of "so-called net neutrality" isn't a perjorative; it's the layperson's term that people use instead of the FCC's title.

Given what every reasonable Internet user/consumer thinks of this matter, I can only conclude from your comments that you are somehow connected to the Internet-provider industry. This is NOT in any way a good thing for Internet users, especially those of us whose businesses rely on high-speed service.

Posted by: Andrew53 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

This is good news. The FCC does not need a free hand in controlling anything. AS I see it, the system is working. Even if an FCC run Internet were to be a good thing, a ten year battle to get there would in the long run be a good thing. The FCC is after all just another part of a relentlessly encroaching federal bureaucracy. The FCC was created to control the airways as if we humans somehow owned them. Having failed to do that they wish to control optic fibers copper wires and anything else that signals may travel over. Why not let the existing Internet system at least com close to failure before taking it over. Don't fix it until it is at least showing signs of breaking down. Doug

Posted by: dougpol1 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You do not like Comcast service - sign for other or create a new network. Why should minority that uses multigigabyte downloads slow down the service for the rest of the users? SJC was completely right - this is private network and if you do not like it create a new one.

By the way, I neither use Comcast or work there

Posted by: igorkh | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Get ready to open up your pocket so that Comcast and the rest of the "service" providers can grab another handful of money. I wish, like the previous poster, that I was only paying $30 a month for service but that is less than half of my current monthly fee of $78.99 and the quality of my service, although it is necessary for my business, isn't worth even a third what I'm paying. However, net-neutrality isn't about monthly fees the consumer pays the provider it is about the fees that providers are going to charge the users to get access to the broadest possible customer base - that in turn will be reflected in how much access the consumer will be provided which will obviously be reflected in the end cost of merchandise and services purchased. And it isn't just going to raise merchandise/service prices on the net, brick and mortar stores with an online presence will increase store prices also to help offset their internet costs. Everybody looses except the nation's largest broadband providers. If I has a choice of providers, which I don't, or could simply eliminate the online portion of my business I would do one or the other - I can't do either so ultimately I will have to raise my prices and, as the little guy, once again try to find a nitch in the marketplace.

Posted by: mcordray | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken.
----------------------------

Oh really?

Another ostrich eh? Look around fool - we are get our butts kicked by South Korea and many other countries. You obviously are not entrenched in the industry as are many who are posting here are - unless you are a shill for the giant telecoms.

You would not even be able to post on this site if developers like myself could not have communicated affordably over the past twenty years creating the programming code that drives this bus.

Posted by: TPartier | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

"Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken."

Stupid Corporatist. Some countries don't have any monthly fees for their broadband internet access. Stop trying to protect the corporations and start thinking about the consumer.

Posted by: glacy3 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Is that considered free speech for corporations?

Posted by: glacy3 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Or this could be a case of Comcast winning a battle but losing the war if Congress steps in and updates the FCC charter. People should complain to Congress; might take awhile but bet on it, Comcast will overstep.

Posted by: ronjaboy | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

"Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken."

Stupid Corporatist. Some countries don't have any monthly fees for their broadband internet access. Stop trying to protect the corporations and start thinking about the consumer.

Posted by: glacy3 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Is that considered free speech for corporations?

Posted by: glacy3 | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

You do not like Comcast service - sign for other or create a new network. Why should minority that uses multigigabyte downloads slow down the service for the rest of the users? SJC was completely right - this is private network and if you do not like it create a new one.

By the way, I neither use Comcast or work there

Posted by: igorkh | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Now because of this you will be paying to surf the Internet on a per click basis.

Ports will be closed, web sites the Conservatives don't like will load slow to load or you will be blocked from their content all together. (unless you pay extra)

Want to watch that streaming TV show?

Well either pay Comcast extra or that port is blocked or you can slowed down to 56k speed!

This will slow or STOP all independent development for the United States too. What is the point in building a network people in the US can't access?

All those cool little apps for your Internet ready phone...get ready to pay EXTRA to use them now too!

The LA Times has already started...you MUST BELONG to a Corporate partner social network site to comment on any story on the LA Times now!!!

This is going to get worse!!!

The American people will end up paying a HUGE PRICE for this ruling.

We will not only fall behind the rest of the world (in terms of Internet use & availability) but Internet FREEDOM IS AT STAKE TOO!!!

Want to blog...You will pay extra for those ports soon!!

Give a corporation a dime and they will force you to pay ten dollars for that dime usage!!!

Posted by: imZandor | April 6, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what some of you are complaining about. Personally, I don't want to read your blog. As I understand "Net Neutrality" your blathering drivel of a blog would have the same weight in the search architecture as a major media website.

"Net Neutrality" has not been an issue to date, this overreaching regulation seems to be just another way for the government to attempt to manipulate free trade and commerce. Supply and demand is a far better regulator than unnecessary regulation.

Posted by: PMMM | April 6, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"Other countries WISH they had it this good." Actually, I wish we had it as good as one of the 14 OECD countries that are ahead of us in broadband speed and affordability. See: http://archive.itif.org/index.php?id=142 .

As an appeal to your sense of patriotism: We built the internet. Don't you find it at all sad that we're now in the middle of the pack among OECD nations in broadband development?

Posted by: mcclure03 | April 6, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

It continuously disheartens me to hear my former friends on the conservative side close off their thinking when anyone wants the federal government to regulate anything.

Platitudes and blanket statements like “Stand on your own two feet” and “Personal responsibility” seem to quickly pale when one looks only a little bit closer at most of the issues of national scope.

In some areas it makes sense to have the federal government provide some services and some protections to the population. For example: It would be a real mess to take away the Intersate system and go back to every community and county doing their own plan as we had before WWII. Likewise, it makes sense for the government to monitor and regulate large banks who left unchecked would socialize all their losses as they just recently did because of lack of firm oversight and control from the fed.

The cable industry is a monopoly and most people do not have any real market options for this critical service. I am hopeful that the FCC or some other group will take this on to the higher courts (If that is still an option.

If you want to trust the cable companies to do what is good and fair you will be very disappointed. They must be regulated for the good of the nation.

If that makes me a socialist… well… I guess I am then. 


Posted by: Reformed-Republican | April 6, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. Some comments are just outrageous. If you don't like Comcast, get a different provider? Most placeswhere they are, Comcast has a monopoly. Do you know what that word means? I'm guessing not.

Other countries wish they had it this good? Um, no, the US is WAY behind most developed countries by a long shot. Broadband in the US is a joke compared to Japan, Korea, Europe, large parts of Asia and India. I did find a place that was worse than the US. A small hotel on the east coast of the Island of Zanzibar.

Congress needs to step in and make sure the power is given to the FCC to regulate abusive monopolistic giants like Comcast, Time-Warner, etc. Time Warner never followed the Cable Card rules in a timely manner and let my use my TiVO HD properly. Once the Cable Cards were fixed and working, they moved to Switched Digital Video - which once again do not work correctly.

They punish me for daring not to use their junk DVRs. These things are just symptomatic of a cable industry run amok. (And I'm not inherently anti-cable. A friend of mine owns nine cable companies in Canada.)

Posted by: leicaman | April 6, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The courts only mentioned that the FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate internet traffic. They didn't rule on what Comcast is actually doing.

That's easily corrected by Congress.

Posted by: HillmanDC | April 6, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

This is very, very bad.
The US is now 17 in internet service. Other countries put is to shame as a result of the old corporate rules of ... "charge me the most for the least" ... and "if if is legal it is ethical".
They will be able to block news like this ...http://wisconsinconfidential.blogspot.com/

Posted by: kuemmet | April 6, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Supply and demand is a better way for what?

We ask the federal government to control all kinds of things that need being controlled. Is it OK for someone to say traffic in slavery or heroin and then to tell you "Hey... leave me a lone... it's free enterprise".

Supply and demand is good only up until it runs into an monopoly. Then you know what most people call it? "Illegal"

Posted by: Reformed-Republican | April 6, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

FAIL! Ugh!

Posted by: bittercat | April 6, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

FCC, the propaganda wing of the Odrama communist takeover of America. Courts! Deal a blow to the rat vermin censors at the FCC!

No one is trying to FIX the internet right now, but there are those trying to take it over and control every aspect of it. The government has scary power now and we need to curb it, check it top it NOW or its too late.

Posted by: mickrussom | April 6, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Another win for greedy corporate America, and another loss for the consumer. I hope the FCC appeals this.

Some of the comments put up by the ignorant republikkkants above are just too hillarious. Of course you guys don't care since the trailer parks in Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, and the rest of the republkkkan states don't get high-speed internet, and your moronic solution that we should "just change services" is extremely naïve.

Even if an area was served by more than one provider (here in MoCo we have FiOS, although I still take it in the a** from Comcast) it's highly unlikely that there will be more than two or three providers and that almost always sets up market collusion (which is not always blatant or obvious). Only if there were ten or more ISP's per neighborhood would a solution like that work.

Posted by: one4all | April 6, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Another win for greedy corporate America, and another loss for the consumer. I hope the FCC appeals this.

Some of the comments put up by the ignorant republikkkants above are just too hillarious. Of course you guys don't care since the trailer parks in Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, and the rest of the republkkkan states don't get high-speed internet, and your moronic solution that we should "just change services" is extremely naïve.

Even if an area was served by more than one provider (here in MoCo we have FiOS, although I still take it in the a** from Comcast) it's highly unlikely that there will be more than two or three providers and that almost always sets up market collusion (which is not always blatant or obvious). Only if there were ten or more ISP's (i.e. monpolistic comp.) per neighborhood would a solution like that work.

Posted by: one4all | April 6, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Don't any of you conservatives come crying to me when BrowshirtKKKorp shows up at your door and demands that you turn your chilren over to them. (It's an exaggeration, folks. Trying to make a point about what a bad trend this is!)

You might get an organic tomato from my garden, but you sure as heck won't get my sympathy.

Y'all are so short-sighted, you won't even see them coming for you--and they will. Trust me. ;)

Posted by: bittercat | April 6, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

FCC, the propaganda wing of the Odrama communist takeover of America. Courts! Deal a blow to the rat vermin censors at the FCC!

No one is trying to FIX the internet right now, but there are those trying to take it over and control every aspect of it. The government has scary power now and we need to curb it, check it top it NOW or its too late.

----------------

Such an ignorant and idiotic comment.

Sometimes I feel sorry for people like this. I mean what can you do with your life with an IQ obviously <20. No wonder they succumb so easily to wingnut propoganda, and throw their support behind people as dumb as they are such as Dubya and Sarah Palin.

Posted by: one4all | April 6, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The FCC is the Government folks, and do you want the Government in everything you think, do and say, and regulating like they are in China? The fact that the FCC wants to take over internet, and "Big Brother" everyone and everything out there, isn't good news for Americans. Good for you Comcast! Other service providers can do similar challenges. Get the Government run agencies out of our faces. As for Greedy Corporate America. Those "Greedy" Corporations just happen to be employing hundreds of thousands of individuals. The more you squash corporations, the more Americans will lose their jobs. Do the math! You can't squeeze blood out of turnip. Jobs are lost because corporations are closing down. You think Uncle Sam is going to "1984" everyone into a perfect job? THINK AGAIN!

Posted by: allforher58 | April 6, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Why are there so many comments posted which are double-think here. The same comment, which is liberal biased, is posted 2 and 3 times in a row?!!! Yes, let's get the message out which leans toward Government Control of everything! Ignorance is the scourage of the people.

Posted by: allforher58 | April 6, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow, some of you are really going off the deep end.

What you expect the government to force corporations who invested heavily to get broadband cable out to your home so you can enjoy more than a trickle speed over dial up for free? Gee how stalinist of some of you.

This isn't about corporations, its about a hand out, welfare, a new government program to provide and mandate internet service. Guess what some people DON't need it ;)

Posted by: Veretax | April 6, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken.

-------------------------------------------

Stupid, brainwashed conservative. The US trails Korea, Japan, Denmark, France, just to name a few, in the speed and cost of our internet service.
If you guys had brains you'd take them out and play with them wouldn't you!

Posted by: easysoul | April 6, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow.... Ms. Kang's bias shows through in only the first sentence of the article, in which she states that the decision "undermines" the FCC's authority.

The fact is that the decision DELINEATES the Commission's authority.

Ms. Kang appears to dislike the decision, perhaps because it is detrimental to the agenda of Google - the company which funds Ms. Kang's paychecks by providing advertising for her blog. (Google favors regulation of the Internet by the FCC, because it believes that it can achieve regulatory capture of the agency via campaign contribution and lobbying and thereby get a leg up over competitors.)

The truth is that this decision is good for all Americans. It confirms that the agency is subject to the rule of law, and prohibits it from regulating the Internet (which has flourished for more than a quarter of a century without regulation) without explicit authorization from Congress.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | April 6, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

LoveIB:

You are so not knowledgeable about this situation that I won't even waste my time on a point-by-point reply. But I will point out that the FCC didn't "use the courts to establish how far" it can go -- Comcast took the matter to court.

As for your line, "Report, just report. If you want to express opinion, write for the Op-Ed page." -- this IS an opinion piece, Ms. Kang's take on the issue. Her use of "so-called net neutrality" isn't a perjorative; it's the layperson's term that people use instead of the FCC's title.

Given what every reasonable Internet user/consumer thinks of this matter, I can only conclude from your comments that you are somehow connected to the Internet-provider industry. This is NOT in any way a good thing for Internet users, especially those of us whose businesses rely on high-speed service.

Posted by: Andrew53 | April 6, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

http://www.curtisneeley.com/5-09-cv-05151/Docket/index.htm

is the Docket of a current case posted

publicly by Curtis J. Neeley Jr. He is a mentally disabled, pro se pauper

plaintiff in United States Western District of Arkansas, where the

Plaintiff asks that broadcasting via the internet be no longer exempt

from the FCC regulations that TV and Radio already face.

Stay tuned.

This Comcast decision is trivial compared to

the injunctive relief sought there.

EXTREMELY trivial.

Posted by: curtis4 | April 6, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

BitTorrent (no space) is a communications protocol, not a "site." Blocking BitTorrent is akin to making it illegal to speak French.

Posted by: ChrisCombs | April 6, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank God that the FCC lost this one.

A little bit of our 1st Amendment was save from Obama's Progressive, Socialist, Marxist, Liberal, Democrat FCC trying to shut down any and all opposition thru the free speech of the tax paying citizens!

We have a enemy within the Congress of the United States that wants to destroy all opposition especially the free speech from the Conservatives.

We need to get rid of these radicals before they get a chance to do any more damage to or country and our way of life!

We need to be protected from our own government!

Posted by: Acornisascam | April 6, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"This is good news. The FCC does not need a free hand in controlling anything. AS I see it, the system is working. ... Doug"

We have net neutrality now. The current debate is an attempt to stop the corporate gatekeepers to the Internet from getting RID of it. Could you be less informed?

Posted by: Batmensch | April 6, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

luncheaterguy @ 11:39 AM

Your fact-free and "America is the Greatest Country don't you know that Stupid Libtard" post only goes to show that the stupid is you.

Here are the FACTS:

"In 2000 America was ranked fourth among OECD countries in broadband penetration. In 2006 this rank was down to 12th and continued down to 15th by 2007."

http://www.america2050.org/broadband.html

Got that?

We're sliding, thanks to worshipers of big business over common sense like you.

------------------
"Say farewell to visions of affordable, reliable broadband in the Doubtfully-United States"

Stupid Liberal, We're already paying $30 a month for very reliable dsl and cable. Other countries WISH they had it this good. Stop trying to FIX stuff that isn't broken.
----------------------------

Posted by: grosmec | April 6, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank God that the FCC lost this one.

A little bit of our 1st Amendment was save from Obama's Progressive, Socialist, Marxist, Liberal, Democrat FCC trying to shut down any and all opposition thru the free speech of the tax paying citizens!

We have a enemy within the Congress of the United States that wants to destroy all opposition especially the free speech from the Conservatives.

We need to get rid of these radicals before they get a chance to do any more damage to or country and our way of life!

We need to be protected from our own government!


------------------------------

Did Limbaugh tell you to say that or was it one of the braindead neocons on Faux Noise?

Yet another ignorant trailer-trash republikkkan spewing the wingnut propoganda. From just reading your post it's obvious you didn't finish high school like most of your redneck friends that make up the republikkkan "base."

Reading the canned Marxist/Terrorist/Socialist/blahblahblah bull***t of people like this idiot--a product of the very bottom of the gene barrel--it's no wonder absolute morons like Sarah Palin and "Dubya" have such a huge following. Obviously these people (or should I say sheeple) don't like venerating people smarter than they are.

Posted by: one4all | April 6, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The FCC is the agency didn't follow proper procedures and it "failed to justify exercising jurisdiction!"
Hooray for the USA! The FCC lost because they were trying to do something illegal. This is not a setback, this is setting things straight. Only Communists and Fascists consider this a loss, TRUE Americans KNOW its a Victory!

Posted by: JayMParsons | April 6, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Its especially interesting, on this topic, how many folks argue against Network Neutrality and FCC regulation in broadband services do so from the effective position of preserving freedom when the net result of their suppression of actual efforts to preserve freedom is the roadway to Fascism.

The idea of codifying the Constitutional and Bill of Rights guarantees of "Freedom of Speech", "Freedom of Assembly", and "Freedom of Religion" into the modern era of communications through the FCC seems quite rational and with the intent of the founders. It would seem to be what we should be doing so that corporate interests don't engage in the suppression of these activities (something they have already demonstrated a desire and willingness to do.) It would seem that this action of codifying certain Freedoms within the context of the Internet would be something that these "Freedom Patriots" would be all about.

However, with their vehement opposition to the FCC codifying Freedom on the internet, it would seem that they are working to some other agenda (whether they know it or not). The agenda the "no FCC regulation" camp is on is that of the Corporatist and Fascist suppressors of the very freedoms these folks think they are defending. The "no FCC regulation" camp sees all government (except the ones that directly benefit them) as bad and something to suppress... The Corporatists and Fascist forces in our society see this energy and they exploit it to support their agenda and not the goals of the people they exploit.

Alas, the "no FCC regulation" camp folks are too blinded by their polarized good versus evil view of government that they will gladly trade real freedoms for "supposed freedoms" all in the name of "less government intrusion". (Little suspecting that their trade will come due all too soon where the voice of the people will no longer have any power and the Corporatist State will control their "freedoms" based on the Corporate profit margin.

Posted by: sonofthor | April 6, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

After reading some of these moronic comments, I'm kind of glad the FCC won't be able to regulate the Internet as much so you morons won't have access anymore while people with over half a brain will.

Acornisascam: 1st amendment? Enemy of free speech? What the hell are you talking about? Can you even read? Do you know what I'm writing?

Do you know what the 1st amendment is? God almighty, you are one dumb sack of.. This has absolutely nothing to do with free speech you moron. Try writing a paragraph that doesn't include Obama and socialist.

As for somebody else who wrote "Good for Comcast". Is Comcast like the little guy who could, who makes the a few baskets on the court and people feel so happy that he succeeded? Last I checked, they were a $35 billion dollar company... talk about being in the pockets of the corporate elite..

I agree with Brett that the FCC needs to know its limits and go about this the correct way. However, choking Bittorrent to a screeching halt is something I disagree completely and it should be corrected with proper laws and guidelines..

This also has nothing to do with competition, subscriber fees etc. That is an entirely new discussion that should be dealt with immediately. To be in a city such as Harrisburg, PA and have to pay $25/month for a 1 mbps connection is absolutely ridiculous. Might as well be on dial-up.

Posted by: SwampFox11 | April 6, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

About two years ago Comcast, in my area of Florida, raised the rates of basic cable about six dollars per month. Then, quite some time before the conversion to digital was to take place, they converted three channels to digital. When I couldn't view those channels Comcast told me I needed a digital converter and then rented one to me for $6.95 per month. So they breached my contract by not providing the channels they said they would. I soon found out that Comcast essentially gutted their customer service requirements with the help of the Florida legislature. They did so in other states, too. So, in Florida and those other states if you have a problem with Comcast, it is between you and them and they always win. I asked a service tech how Comcast gets away with such abuse. He said, "Because they can."

Next the Stimulus package provided $9 billion for broadband expansion to areas Comcast and others didn't expand to, even though they were ordered to, because there was no profit in it. Now the taxpayers will pay for the expansion and Comcast will benefit.

I haven't watched TV in two years. I get my news from radio, Internet, and newspapers and magazines. I read at night. It was scary at first but life got very simple very fast. Drop TV, read.

Robert McElroy

Posted by: robertwp | April 6, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Those of you on here who are railing about "government takeover" (because you heard that phrase on Fox News) obviously don't realize what the purpose of the FCC is. But that's okay; I have a deal for you....

If you think government should not be part of our lives, then agree to be no longer eligible to participate, enjoy, or otherwise receive benefit from any of the following:
- The interstate and road system
- Public libraries
- Military protection
- Police and fire protection
- Public schools
- State colleges
- Clean water
- Medicaid/Medicare
- Social Security
- Health inspections at restaurants
And more than I care to type....

No, government is not the answer to everything, but neither is an unrestricted, corporate-run, free market. I'm a longtime entrepreneur and believer in capitalism; however, I also don't trust everyone who runs a company to do so in the best interest of the public at large, or even their customers. And when corporations get too big -- just as with governments -- the people within them are highly susceptible to self-interest and self-preservation, rather than following a system of solid values and doing what's "right."

If the FCC overstepped its bounds in this case, so be it. But hopefully that will be rectified in some way, because Internet access needs to be not trusted to the unregulated hands of the same entities that have essentially monopolized cable TV, to the point that the average person pays about $75 per month for TV.

It's always interesting to me that the argument (left vs. right) boils down to putting our trust into the government vs. free enterprise. I say, why put our total trust in either? They should be a check and balance to each other.

Posted by: Andrew53 | April 7, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

As usual, there are two sides to this:

Service providers invest to build networks to offer services for a price (presumably to make money). Despite rhetoric & advertising claims, there's an underlying assumption of bandwidth usage per user which they use to scale the network. The problem with the "all you can eat" pricing is, as consumers gobble up more bandwidth (i.e more bandwidth/user), the service demand increases without an increase in revenue. Further, even if a minority of the user population are high bandwidth consumers everybody's performance suffers. So, the contentious solution used by some providers is to limit the bandwidth of the high bandwidth-consuming applications/protocols/etc. This effectively limits the (current minority) of large bandwidth consumers and provides a better Quality of Experience (per unit dollar invested) for the majority. It also helps defer network expansion expense.

On the customer side (especially the high bandwidth consumption population), they see such a move as unfair, claiming that they should be entitled to the full bandwidth for which they pay for every month to do with as they see fit, and anything less is a rip-off. This leads to the demands for government regulation which will more or less convert broadband to something resembling a utility.

Well, I think we can do better than this. How about the following:

1) For the "average" broadband service being offered, how about requiring the provider to reveal if/when they filter/shape/block traffic they deem beneficial for their network. The customer can then choose whether to accept this or not. For the majority of the "web-surfer" population, they're probably just fine with it.

2) Provide differentiated service offerings for those who desire unfiltered access. This of course will come with a price which, presumably is more representative of the cost of delivering such service. If the demand is as high as many believe it to be, then presumably the service provider will see this as a growing market segment and 'feed' it. Market competition in this segment will work to keep the price competitive.

The "net neutrality" supporters see this decision as a blow. Well perhaps. I see it more that the way in which the FCC was trying to go about it was considered "out of bounds." But this doesn't change the underlying forces. IMHO, it's really up to the service providers to come up with compelling offerings which feed the demand if they want to keep out of being sucked into the regulatory morass.

Posted by: stochastic | April 7, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

One key thing that's missing in this piece, the accompanying article, and the comments is that one big reason this came around is that Comcast was *selectively* cutting traffic to certain sites. It wasn't just an issue of too much bandwidth, but rather choosing which sites its users could access or not (and not telling them).

Aside from the inherent lack of fairness in that, the larger issue is what to do as these conglomerates get all encompassing. For example, as they become huge owners of various media outlets (TV, radio, websites, etc.), the risk is loss of freedom of Internet access. China's doing it with Google; one day Comcast and its competitors may do it.

Don't think of this as crazy -- right now, what you see on TV is chosen for you by your cable or satellite provider. This is the model they prefer (and have defended against ala carte channel service). So, let's say that XYZ Mega-Media is an Internet-service provider and they happen to own Hulu; well, as a result of this court ruling, there's nothing to stop them from cutting or slowing traffic to YouTube. Same goes for Internet radio sites like Pandora or just about anything.

It's really too bad all the "Protect Our Freedoms!" commenters on here don't get this. They're so caught up guarding their front doors against the government taking their freedom that they're missing the corporations sneaking in the back door.

Posted by: Andrew53 | April 9, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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