Uncommon Wisdom

May 7 2010   7:19PM GMT

Individual FCC comments on broadband may tell whole story

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

The FCC today released a number of comments from individual commissioners on the regulation of broadband access. None of these statements represents a firm policy, which the FCC can develop only through a very specific public process, but together, they reflect the goals of the public process the FCC will now launch.

In brief, what the commission (as articulated by Chairman Genachowski) is proposing is exactly what we’ve been saying all along would be the best approach. The FCC would propose to reclassify broadband access as a telecommunications service, which would regulate it under Title II and offer the FCC considerable authority (unambiguous authority) to enforce net neutrality. To prevent the classification from destroying the precarious balance that had promoted investment in broadband, the FCC is signaling it will use Section 706 provisions to “forebear” from application of anything but minimal regulation.

The political lines have been drawn in the FCC but it won’t matter much; the commission is in Democratic control. This is another story that’s going to get very bad coverage, so let’s set one thing straight from the start: The Internet itself is not being reclassified or regulated. Just broadband access.

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