FCC rolls out broadband proposals, weighing response to court
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday said it would pursue 60 regulatory efforts to bring affordable high-speed Internet connections across the country, even as its ability to regulate Internet access hangs in limbo.
The agency said it believes it has the authority to pursue those policies, but analysts and legal experts said a federal court ruling against it earlier this week would make those efforts difficult.
“The court decision earlier this week does not change our broadband policy goals, or the ultimate authority of the FCC to act to achieve those goals,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a press release. “The court did not question the FCC’s goals; it merely invalidated one technical, legal mechanism for broadband policy chosen by prior Commissions.”
Still the agency’s ability to carry out significant portions of its national broadband plan appeared in doubt. The FCC’s general counsel, Austin Schlick, said Wednesday that the federal appeals court decision against it in a case brought by Comcast could affect specific regulatory goals such as bringing affordable connections to low-income and rural areas. It could also affect cybersecurity, privacy and consumer protection efforts.
But the FCC is getting started on its dozens of policy plans – which can take several months to form – so as not to delay those efforts amid its separate legal deliberation, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic. The agency has not indicated how it would respond to Tuesday’s court decision.
Specifically, the FCC said that before June, it would begin crafting a ruling that would create an inter-operable public safety network for emergency responders. It would work on a policy to allow mobile customers to get Internet roaming on competing networks. It would also begin taking comments on efforts to bring Internet access television set-top boxes. It will begin a reform a federal phone subsidy to also fund broadband networks.
Between July and September, the FCC will pursue policies to reform broadcast spectrum into mobile wireless airwaves. It will also begin reforms to special access rules for how competitors access the broadband networks of large phone carriers.
More details here.
April 8, 2010; 3:05 PM ET
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