Tuesday, April 20, 2010

USA - Reality check on 'reclassifying' broadband

[cnet] Even before the D.C. Circuit's decision in Comcast v. FCC, a great deal of ink has been spilled over speculation that the FCC will rescue its marooned Net neutrality rulemaking by "reclassifying" broadband Internet access as a "telecommunications service" under Title II of the Communications Act. (Some of that ink has been my own.)

Earlier last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski refused to rule out that possibility, telling a Senate Committee that "we haven't settled on a path forward."

But regulating Internet access after leaving it largely alone all these years would be much more difficult than most people think. There are serious legal obstacles to overcome, some of them substantial. Along the way, lawmakers, courts, and consumers are likely to oppose the FCC's means, even if they support the goal of enacting the proposed Net neutrality rules.

That's in part because regulating Internet access under Title II opens it to a wide range of possible regulation and plenty of unintended consequences. Under Title II, for starters, the FCC would have the power to subject Internet access to the full set of common-carrier provisions. These include federal, state, and even municipal oversight on rates, forced sharing of equipment (with any competitor who asks) at fees refereed by the FCC, and new taxes collected on behalf of the Universal Service Fund, which today is used to provide basic phone service to those who cannot otherwise afford it.

Reality check on 'reclassifying' broadband

No comments: