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FCC reclassification would face political, legal opposition, analysts say

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s reluctance to reclassify broadband as a Title II service suggests that pursuing such a course could be a struggle for the agency, according to a note from two analysts published Monday.

Rebecca Arbogast and David Kaut of Stifel Nicholas wrote in a report to investors that they don’t think a final decision has been made by Genachowski, who would have to get three of five votes from FCC members in any decision.

The note came in response to an article in the Post’s Monday editions that said Genachowski was inclined to keep broadband services deregulated. Arbogast and Kaut note that Monday’s report the indicates that the agency final decision remains a moving target.

“This may accurately capture the current state of deliberations, but we do not think a final decision has yet been made,” they wrote. “There’s speculation that today’s story was a trial balloon, an attempt to galvanize Title II backers to more forcefully make their case, or a snapshot of a moment in the deliberative process.”

Arbogast and Kaut said that reclassifying broadband as a Title II carrier service would face significant opposition from broadband service providers, who would challenge such a move legally and politically. Reclassification could also give Republicans political ammunition to use against the Obama administration; even though the FCC is an independent agency, Genachowski is an Obama appointee. The analysts said Republicans could argue that Title II reclassification would lead over-regulation of the Internet, hurting job creation and chilling investment.

However, Arbogast and Kaut sought in their note to rebut claims about the heavy regulatory impact of reclassification. “We do not agree with those who have charged that there will necessarily be massive re-regulation of broadband under Title II, and that even if the FCC decides to forbear from imposing common carrier regulations it would take years to effectuate the relief,” they wrote. “Rather, we believe the agency will try to reach the same end game it was pursuing before the recent FCC setback in the Comcast case.”

Arbogast and Kaut wrote that they expect Genachowski to give direction on the issue in the next few days or weeks. He would likely – as he did with the net neutrality proposal – solicit public comments for several months. And they said that Genachowski may pursue multiple tracks at once: collecting comments on Title I or Title II; moving forward on merger reviews including of the Comcast-NBC Universal deal; working to bolster the FCC’s case for net neutrality rules; and pursuing other items such as rules on wireless data roaming and reform of a phone subsidy to include broadband.

So far, corporate proponents of net neutrality and reclassification – Google and Skype – have not responded to Monday’s article.

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By Cecilia Kang  |  May 4, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  AT&T , Broadband , Comcast , FCC , Google , Net Neutrality , Verizon  | Tags: Comcast, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission, Google, NBC, NBC Universal, Network neutrality, Skype  
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The last sentence of this article is telling. Reporter Cecilia Kang sought comment from PROPONENTS of Title II reclassification (most of whom are connected, in one way or another, with her sponsor Google) but didn't even mention OPPONENTS of reclassification, much less discuss their viewpoint. This is not balanced reporting, and (like her other reporting during the past year or longer) demonstrates that Ms. Kang has an irreparable bias and a conflict of interest. Washington Post, you need fair and unbiased reporting of this important issue. And that means pulling Cecilia Kang off this beat.

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Posted by: itkonlyyou38 | May 4, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

ok you want to discuss the proponents? ok comcast time warner? all the major internet providers in the us. the internet should of been reclassified as a tier 2 a long time ago before this hole mess started. throttling of traffic selling the high point not the actual usable speed. overselling your nodes. all could of been avoided if someone poked there head around every now and again. the problem is the fact that the only people watching over the guys at companies like comcast are the shareholders. when you cant get most jobs any more without internet it needs reclassified.

o and the point about how this would make us loose jobs? how the service will still be there and if this happens there will be even more deployments of internet so we would be gaining jobs not loosing.

Posted by: drksilenc | May 4, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Of coarse the Tel-cos and Cable-cos are going to oppose the reclasifacation they do not want to lose their duopoly that they have paid so dearly for. Here is a link that you may find very informative.
People who live in the DC metro area, have a very false concept of what the Internet service in the US is really like. When I lived there back in 2006 or 2007 both Comcast and Verizon rewired the entire community for high speed. Where I live now in a county of 1.3 million people neither comcast or at&t have upgraded their services. Maybe the folks in Washington DC need to look outside their perfect little bubble and ask what other people across the nation think. Both at&t and Comcast are IMHO horrible companies to deal with as far as services and customer service. To bad they are my only choices for high speed Internet.
Reclassify broadband as a Title II carrier service NOW!!! Get competition back in the industry.

Posted by: rfceo | May 4, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad reclassification can't be put up for citizens & consumers to vote on nationally. The big 3 ISP's need some regulation, imo.

Posted by: Hattrik | May 4, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

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