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FCC votes to seek comment on its new legal strategy

The Federal Communications Commission moved forward this morning with its latest attempt to regain some authority over the broadband industry.

In a 3 to 2 vote, the FCC has decided to seek public comment on a controversial legal strategy unveiled this spring that would let the agency impose new rules on Internet service providers. The agency, still reeling from an April court decision that undercut its authority over broadband, wants to get back on track with its ambitious plans to shape the future of this country's Internet usage and access.

"The FCC has an obligation to move forward with an open, constructive public comment process to ask hard questions, build a record, find a solution, and resolve the uncertainty that has been created," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The new legal path is this: Currently, broadband is defined as an information service, which means it doesn't face much FCC oversight. Genachowski's plan is to shift broadband into the same classification as telephone service, which would trigger more oversight by the agency.

The FCC says it would not subject Internet service providers to the full brunt of regulation that would come with the new classification, instead choosing a "third way" that would apply only some of the rules.

Opponents say the FCC is overstepping its bounds and should wait for Congress to weigh in and clarify the agency's power. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who voted against the proceeding today, said that the rules for telephone services aren't appropriate for Internet service providers.

"The commission is seeking to impose 19th-century-style regulations designed for monopolies on competitive, dynamic and complex 21st-century Internet technologies," McDowell said.

Meanwhile, there's an effort on Capitol Hill to define more clearly the FCC's authority. Genachowski said today he supports the effort by lawmakers to update telecommunications law.

“Let me take this opportunity today to say clearly: I fully support this Congressional effort," Genachowski said. "A limited update of the Communications Act could lock in an effective broadband framework to promote investment and innovation, foster competition, and empower consumers."

By Jia Lynn Yang  |  June 17, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC  
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Next: Reaction to FCC's latest steps on broadband


Mr. McDowell is the 19th century thinker here.
Verizon is a Telco, TV provider and ISP all rolled into one. Perhaps if they want to do everything they should have to follow 'all' the rules, no? If not they should split up their business into separate units in each of the proposed areas. Why we are changing our oversight simply based on what else a company does boggles the mind.
And conversely, Comcast's phone service doesn't run over phone lines. It uses the exact same data transfers of it's internet and cable TV services.
Which is which? in the 21st century it will get mighty hard to separate these functions from each other except in one specific way. Network access vs services.
We must separate network providers from service providers. If you want to run the network, you don't get to provide services on that network. This would be a regulated business much like phone service is now. People can run phone over data now with ease, much like DSL was (and is) run over phone lines. Telco's were perfectly capable to provide (and were forced to) competing DSL companies onto their* networks. (* paid for by taxpayers)
Until the Telco's got their regulatory status changed and were able to kick the other DSL companies off their* networks.
This is basic common sense. If you provide the network, you have an implicit advantage providing services on that network. This needs to be either prohibited or heavily regulated to ensure fair network access to all service providers on the network.

Posted by: rpixley220 | June 17, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Governments of most counties are all failing to admit or understand that the ‘World Wide Web’ is in a very serious state of overload, already both AT&T and 02 have started restricting their services in order to try and maintain a steady service. The demand placed on the Net by increased speeds and HD format Movies and new Smart Phones is colossal.

However there is an alternative to restricting download Data Caps:

Which is to apply the system that BT has had since 1995, which is the ‘Platform High Capacity Super Controller System’. The system can cope with an astounding increase of over 72,000% of additional user capacity. BT may have my program etc, but not the systems integration’s Technology as will only be released by disclosure agreement. Link to proof document here:

What does not seem to be taken into consideration is that today the Internet is the hub of all businesses both big and small, new applications for smart phones are very big business coupled with the sales of legitimate movies and music by restricting the Data Caps you restrict sales. Hence it is imperative that all Networks invest the new ‘High Capacity System’ or face losses and inevitable gridlock.

Signed Carl Barron
Systems Formalist Designer and Inventor
Chairman of agpcuk

Posted by: trampus2b3a | June 17, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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