Friday, May 7, 2010

FCC Proposal for "Light Touch" Broadband Regulation

Chairman Julius Genachowski of the Federal Communications Commission issued a statement yesterday outlining how the agency might regulate certain parts of the nation's broadband communications network. The General Counsel of the FCC also provided the legal framework for this approach in an accompanying statement. South Carolina's own Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also issued a statement.

Very broad brush, the Chairman's plan seeks to protect customers and help promote fair competition for broadband services, while not stifling investment and innovation. His approach seeks to classify only the transmission component of broadband access service as a "telecommunications service" subject to FCC oversight. In plainer English, the FCC would regulate (to some extent) the pipes (broadband lines) used to deliver Internet services, but not the content being carried on them.

As history has demonstrated, the FCC's proposals rarely foster consensus among interested parties. Some of the different views on the proposal are described in the Washington Post coverage of the statement, in the New York Times, and in the Wall Street Journal.

This proposal will undoubtedly result in some debate, discussion, and a legal proceeding or two.