FCC to Reclassify Broadband Services

The American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to take a "third approach" to regulating broadband carriers, partially classifying them as "common carriers" under Title 2 of the Communications Act. This would allow the FCC to control the transmission component of broadband Internet, but not rates or content.

The plan, revealed on Thursday, would reclassify broadband transmission service as a telecommunications service. In doing so, the agency is trying to find middle ground between carriers – who would prefer no regulation on their Internet services at all – and consumer advocates – who would like to see strict regulation to enforce "net neutrality".

In a statement, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, "The goal is to restore the broadly supported status quo consensus that existed prior to the court decision on the FCC’s role with respect to broadband Internet service."

Genachowski also said the agency would exempt broadband service from many of the rules affecting telephone service, seeking mainly to guarantee that Internet service providers could not discriminate against certain applications, Internet sites or users.

Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable were disappointed by the FCC's plans, but some consumer advocates sounded optimistic.

Anticipating developments that could endanger net neutrality in the EU, the digital agenda commissioner for the European Union (EU), Ms Kroes, confirmed last month that the Commission will initiate a public consultation on net neutrality that will form the basis of a report to be delivered to the European Parliament and EU Council at the end of this year.

More details on the FCC's plan can be found here: FCC Unveils Details On Reclassification Plans (DSL reports).

More background is provided here: How the FCC Plans To Regulate Broadband (GigaOm).

See also: F.C.C. Proposes Rules on Internet Access (NY Times).

Discussion on the Title II regulatory program on Richard Bennet's blog.

Also noteworthy: Commissioner pledges protection for net neutrality (The Register).

Source: Broadband Reports, NY Times, GigaOm

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