Breaking: FCC Moves Toward Regaining Authority to Regulate Internet

By Jamilah King May 05, 2010

Federal Communications Commissioner Julius Genachowski has decided to reclassify broadband Internet. Almost. From the Washington Post:

"On Wednesday, Mr. Genachowski’s staff began briefing the FCC’s commissioners on how they will propose to regulate Internet lines under rules that were written for traditional phone networks. Some of those rules won’t be applied to Internet networks, FCC officials say, but others will be used to enforce net neutrality, or regulations that require Internet providers to treat traffic equally and not slow or block websites. Phone and cable companies opposed the FCC reclassifying regulation of Internet lines under Title 2 of the Communications Act, which was written for traditional phone networks and includes provisions such as rate regulations."

The move to reclassify broadband from a Title 1 information service to a Title 2 communication service is a crucial step in the commission’s efforts to regain its regulatory authority, which was called into question after a landmark court ruling last month. However, it’s not immediately clear which rules will exist under stronger regulatory frameworks. The news comes after days of speculation that the FCC was poised to forfeit its authority to regulate broadband altogether. Earlier this week WaPo reported that sources close to Genachoswki said the commissioner thought reclassification would be "overly burdensome." Genachowski’s apparent ambivalence led several consumer advocacy groups to rally its members to call on President Obama to uphold his campaign promise of supporting widespread broadband adoption. In an email to supporters earlier today before news of Genachowski’s decision was made public, voiced its displeasure at any signs that the FCC would fail to reclassify. "Given President Obama’s pledge to expand open and affordable broadband Internet access across America, the news that his FCC chair may make the wrong decision is extremely disturbing."