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Posted at 4:34 PM ET, 11/23/2010

FCC delays December meeting, perhaps signaling net neutrality vote

By Cecilia Kang

The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that it has postponed its December meeting by about one week to Dec. 21, sparking a flurry of speculation that the agency did so to prepare for a vote on net neutrality.

“An extra week will help us evaluate potential agenda items for December,” said Jen Howard, a spokeswoman for the FCC.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to introduce a proposal that would be under its questionable legal jurisdiction over broadband service providers, according to Stifel Nicholaus analyst Rebecca Arbogast. And the chairman is in the difficult position of now having to convince two Democratic commissioners who have pushed him to reassert authority over broadband services so he can implement rules against discrimination of content on Internet networks.

Analysts said the delay was probably created so Genachowski could garner support for a majority 3 to 2 vote on a final rule.

"We suspect the Democrats could ultimately support a Title I order, but they may seek some sort of concessions on this or other matters," Arbogast wrote in a research note Tuesday.

That legal standing had been questioned by a federal appeals court last spring that said the FCC was overstepping its authority in sanctioning Comcast for violating broadband open-access guidelines. To pursue a regulation on how network providers can manage traffic under its current authority would probably be challenged in court, observers said.

Telecom and cable industry observers say the agency has been consulting with companies and public-interest groups about a final net neutrality proposal, according to sources familiar with conversations with top FCC staff.

The proposal is expected to focus on wireline broadband services, preventing cable and telecom companies from blocking Web sites and applications on their networks. And analysts expect that the rule would allow broadband service providers to charge Web sites and applications for faster downloads.

Rules would probably be lighter on wireless network operators, who would be prevented from outright blocking of competitors’ voice services, such as Skype. But there may be significant room for paid priority of certain services.

"Of concern for the Bells in particular, the chairman could seek to strengthen wireless net neutrality duties, but we believe the Bells have significant leverage to push back against such provisions, given the FCC desire for industry backing or at least acceptance," Arbogast wrote in a note. "Such support could be especially critical in light of House Republican threats that a net neutrality order would produce a backlash."

By Cecilia Kang  | November 23, 2010; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  FCC, Net Neutrality  
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Comments

If the FCC attempts to regulate the Internet in the last hours of the year, the new Congress - as soon as it is seated - should repeal the regulations via legislation and defund the agency.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | November 23, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

They just won't quit. How many end runs is this government going to take? They won't quit until they are able to control the internet and things will never be the same. My vote is a "hands-off" for the internet. It is working just fine.

I just wish the AMerican public would wake up to this unscrupulous Government and put a stop to it. It's sort of like the healthcare bill. They just would not take no for an answer and look what a mess it is turning into.

We need to throw the bums out!!!!

Posted by: dswift11 | November 24, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

They just won't quit. How many end runs is this government going to take? They won't quit until they are able to control the internet and things will never be the same. My vote is a "hands-off" for the internet. It is working just fine.

I just wish the AMerican public would wake up to this unscrupulous Government and put a stop to it. It's sort of like the healthcare bill. They just would not take no for an answer and look what a mess it is turning into.

We need to throw the bums out!!!!

Posted by: dswift11 | November 24, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The comments I'm reading are ludicrous. There absolutely SHOULD NOT be 'pay for priority or privileges' allowed. The internet is to be free. What is online must be accessible equally to ALL, regardless of whether they have money or not. There does need to be a regulation/law codifying that content cannot be regulated or throttled. I'm astounded by anyone who would disagree. Even the term 'net neutrality' is a complete misnomer. It would imply, to most, that it would keep the internet free and unfiltered. Nope, it would allow private companies to filter. The opposite of what a sensible person would want. It is essentially deregulation. Deregulation of industries (and Bushs' tax scheme) is what LED to the recession that hit, and Obamas policies are pulling us out of fairly quickly. Laws and regulation are a GOOD thing, not the reverse.
To the poster who mentioned healthcare. Good thing we wouldn't take no for an answer. The only flaw of the bill is it compromised too much and watered down too much and still left private insurers in control. Someone will always be a 'regulator' (i.e. private insurance, telecom corp.s), I'd much rather have my healthcare 'regulated' by the federal government than a for-profit private company.
Net neutrality is a lie. It's a name meant to deceive people to garner support.

I fear (and pity) those who fear government.

Posted by: ksoza1 | November 24, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

dswift11@My vote is a "hands-off" for the internet. It is working just fine.

Not really when ISPs like Comcast throttle user download speeds for exceeding some unpublished max GB/month of downloaded content.

With computer operating system updates approaching 1GB, users downloading HD movies daily, YouTube, streaming internet music, updating computer software, online interactive gaming, web surfing, you name it, it's relatively easy for the average household with kids to exceed these arbitrary monthly download maximums and get throttled.

I'm all for a status quo if there were legitimate alternatives to Comcast (and they were upfront about their usage policies so I'd know definitively what tiered level to opt for)...but there aren't alternatives in my area until Verizon FiOS expands. So in the meantime, I'm all for network neutrality and everything it stands for.

Posted by: Post17 | November 24, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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