Internet

Is The FCC Giving Up On Net Neutrality?

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The Internet is not a truck.

According to a number of anonymous sources in today's Washington Post, the Federal Communications Commission is expected not to pursue a change in the regulatory classification of broadband Internet service:

In recent discussions, the sources said Genachowski has indicated he is less inclined to define broadband as common carrier service like regular copper wire phone services, which are clearly under the FCC's oversight. The chairman was concerned that a move to that regime, called Title II, would be overly burdensome on carriers, they said. Yet he was also concerned that the current framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy.

This is basically good news—even more so because the reported reasoning behind Genachowski's decision is, in fact, fairly sound:

The sources said Genachowski thinks "reclassifying" broadband to allow for more regulation would be overly burdensome on carriers and would deter investment. But they said he also thinks the current regulatory framework would lead to constant legal challenges to the FCC's authority every time it attempted to pursue a broadband policy.

However, this may not mean that the FCC is giving up on its neutrality push entirely:

[FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski] is exploring a legal push under the current legal framework for broadband, which is under Title I, that would make possible the FCC's push for a new net neutrality rule and reforms under a national broadband plan, the sources said.

It's also possible that the FCC could go back to Congress for additional regulatory  authority. Though I don't think a Net neutrality bill is likely to pass through the Senate this session, it's not totally impossible. And even if no legislation pops up in the short term, Genachowski's expected decision could help fuel long-term efforts to explicitly beef up the agency's authority over broadband providers through legislation.

More on Net neutrality and Title I/Title II here, here, and here.