With the FCC’s September meeting just a few weeks away—it’s scheduled for September 23rd—the agency has been under enormous pressure to make a call on how it will pursue its Net neutrality agenda. On the left, the loudest members of the activist class have urged the FCC to embark on a program of wholesale regulatory reclassification, shifting broadband Internet from a Title I information service to Title II telecommunications service. The problem, though, is that just about everyone else, including Democrats in Congress and some factions within the White House, has been pushing the agency to hold its regulatory horses.
But even given the widespread pushback, it’s tough to let down the activist base in an election year. So what’s FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski doing? Attempting to split the difference. Rather than rile up the base or pursue a path toward a potential “Regulatory World War III,” he’s clearing his throat and announcing his intention to punt until after the election. In a statement this afternoon, Genachowski announced that he would delay definitive action on two of the most controversial aspects of Net policy, managed services (essentially, web traffic prioritization), and the even bigger question of whether or not to extend neutrality rules to wireless services. But Genachowski isn’t simply delaying. He’s also “seeking further public comment,” which makes it tougher to oppose the move. Who wants to be against a robust discussion of the issues?