FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

Summary: The FCC responds to a legal ruling by offering a compromised approach to restore government authority over transmission of broadband but would keep other elements away from regulatory oversight.


The Federal Communications Commission, not to be discouraged by a court ruling that said it had limited oversight over broadband providers, has developed a new plan that will keep it on track with its efforts to establish a National Broadband Plan. In a statement this morning, chairman Julius Genachowski revealed his plans for a proposal that would resolve the legal challenges and allow the commission to move forward. (Genachowski statement, Techmeme)

In short, the commission's latest proposal would reclassify the "transmission component of broadband access service" - and only that component - to a "telecommunications service," while leaving the other components under the label of "information services," which the FCC has limited authority over.

Essentially, that gives the FCC the authority that it thought it already had prior to the court ruling - now referred to as the "Comcast Decision."

At the same time, the plan would prevent the FCC from applying sections of the Communications Act to areas that are "unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband serviced access service" and would also put in place safeguards to prevent regulatory overreach.

Finally, a common sense approach out of Washington.

Previous coverage: FCC and Net Neutrality: A no-win situation? Google, Verizon CEOs: Why we like the FCC broadband plan

Genachowski was clear in his statement that all-or-nothing approaches wouldn't work. To take either a do-nothing approach would keep the FCC from regulating anticompetitive practices by broadband providers. At the same time, the blanket approach of classifying broadband as a whole as a telecommunications service would subject the providers to unnecessary regulation and oversight by the government while stifling innovation and investment.

Surely, the latter approach would have sent us back to a legal battlefield and slowed the momentum of developing a national plan for broadband, something that's necessary if this country doesn't want to be labeled "third world" when it comes to technology in the future.

Perhaps more impressive is the understanding by Genachowski that this approach is almost more of a temporary fix that allows the FCC to move forward, while recognizing that Congress will inevitably want to update or clarify the Communications Act - and will surely move slowly in doing so. From Genachowski's statement:

The Communications Act as amended in 1996 anticipated that the FCC would have an ongoing duty to protect consumers and promote competition and public safety in connection with broadband communications. Should congressional leaders decide to take up legislation in the future to clarify the statute and the agency’s authority regarding broadband, the agency stands ready to be a resource to Congress as it considers any such legislative measures. In the interim, however, this approach would ensure that key initiatives to address pressing national challenges can move forward.

Of course, it's not a perfect approach. Consumer watchdog groups are already raising an eyebrow with the forbearance provision that establishes government boundaries and "constraints to prevent regulatory overreach." The provision reads:

The FCC would invoke only the few provisions necessary to achieve its limited but essential goals. Notably, these are the very same provisions (sections 201, 202, and 254, for example) that telephone and cable companies agree the FCC should invoke, albeit indirectly under an “ancillary authority” approach. The Commission would take steps to give providers and their investors confidence and certainty that this renunciation of regulatory overreach will not unravel while also giving consumers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators the confidence and certainty they need and deserve. Since Congress gave the Commission forbearance authority 17 years ago, the Commission has never reversed or undone a forbearance decision.

In all, it sounds like a compromise that's not intended to favor one group over another. It sounds like the mission was to look at the matter of broadband and determine what role the government should have in regulating access to broadband, not content or anything else.

Genachowski has put this new plan on the fast track, seeking public comment and then moving forward with the work at hand. Some final thoughts from his statement:

The state of our economy and recent events are reminders both of the need to be cautious and the necessity of a regulatory backstop to protect the American people. I stand ready to explore all constructive ideas and expect those who engage with us to do so constructively as well. The issues presented by the Comcast decision are a test of whether Washington can work—whether we can avoid straw-man arguments and the descent into hyperbole that too often substitute for genuine engagement.

We'll see...

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government US, Networking, Telcos

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  • RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

    Is this just one little step toward the one BIG step? Are we losing more rights and freedoms one little step by one little step, until they eventually achieve the BIG step they wanted all along?
  • Oh this is just rediculous...

    "developing a national plan for broadband, something that??????s necessary if this country doesn??????t want to be labeled ??????third world?????? when it comes to technology in the future." BITE ME! Geez, show me a third world country where all the people who are in a region where they can obtain broadband ALL HAVE COMPUTERS TO USE IT!! This is such double talk bullcrap trickery to shove Net-Neutrality down the throats of the people who own the infrastructure. Y`all are lucky *I* don't run Comcast, ATT or one of the larger Internet Providers because I would tell Uncle Sugar to get stuffed while I yanked miles of optic fiber out of the ground and got out of the internet business altogether...
    ReadWryt (error)
    • In essence, the FCC is engaging in spreading FUD in order to justify

      its regulation of the ISPs.

      It's nothing but another head-fake. If they can't have their way in one direction, they'll head-fake you and go in a different direction. Meanwhile, none of the moves they've made are within their charter and the only thing they can think of, to get their way, is to put their regulations through some back door mechanism.

      It's the same kind of lying that the democrats used when lying about the meaning of the "commerce clause" in the constitution. They've used that lie over and over again in order to regulate and gain control of may aspects of the economy. The people at the FCC, and in many other parts of the government, are very good at spinning their way around the legal hurdles. Hopefully the American people will begin to realize that what's happening to the country through the government is unsustainable and counterproductive and detrimental to our freedoms.

      The bottom line is that the FCC is now in the business of justifying and rationalizing what they want us to believe is good for us while their real intentions are completely different.
      • @adornoe your post is just too stupid for words

        You sound like a Sara Palin/Tea Party retard who isn't smart enough to tie his own shoe laces.
        Over and Out
      • RE: SoYouSaid: It's quite apparent that you're too much of an idiot

        to be able to put any kind of words together to reply intelligently to any of the points that I made.<br><br><i>adornoe, your post is just too stupid for words</i><br><br>Why not take my post apart with some intelligently thought out retorts. Instead, it's apparent that the only thing you can "think" of is to resort to insults, like all cowards who are losing the debate always do. <br><br><i>You sound like a Sara Palin/Tea Party retard who isn't smart enough to tie his own shoe laces.</i><br><br>I have no doubt that Sara Palin and I, every time we go to the bathroom, deposit more brain matter into the toilet than you ever had in your brain. The proof is in your post that I'm replying to. <br><br>If you "think" that you can do better than someone that, according to you, can't even tie his shoelaces, than go ahead and respond to the points that I made; insults by themselves are not going to win you any debates. If you must resort to insults, then you should accompany them with your well thought out responses to all of my points.
    • RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach


      I think that would be your loss, but you would have the right. Maybe you can sell that idea to Comcast and ATT.
  • RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

    I think your spam problem got worse with the new site changes. Getting kinda annoying guys.
  • RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

    Nudge, nudge nudge. Our socalist govt wants control of the internet and they are determined to have it. They learned from Chavez in Venezula, in order to win elections, you must control the media.
  • RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

    We, The Amateur Radio Community, here in Manassas, VA have jsut FINALLY got the Broadband over Power Lines, (BPL), killed due to constant and significant interference with other licensed services. The public has come to EXPECT the Amateur Radio Community to provide emergency communication, either from our homes with a generator, or our cars with mobile equipment. Now here comes the government once more with a known unworkable system. When is the nonsense going to stop?
    Do you really think FEMA has anywhere the ability to deal with a disaster? Satellites don't get the work done alone.
  • RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

    You really need to fix the spam trolling!!
    • SoYouSaid: I do quite often follow my own advice, but idiots like

      you apparently don't know how to follow any kind of advice, even when it's best for them.

      Thus far, you've been "stalking" my posts just to be insulting and with nothing at all to contribute. Insults are not any kind of contribution and you probably need to get help for that anger of yours.

      If it's not anger, then do try to contribute, and if you really don't have anything to contribute, then the following piece of advice is very fitting for: "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt".
  • So far, I have read three types of responses

    -Moronic responses about how The Government is taking over everything!
    -Talk about the rampant spambots

    Michael Alan Goff
    • Even more moronic is having nothing to say and opening your mouth to say it

      There is a saying:

      "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt"
      • RE: RE: Do you really believe that the government is trying to take everything over

        Michael Alan Goff
      • goff256: Are you that ignorant?

        Haven't you been paying attention to what Obama and the democrats have been doing and what they have been saying?

        Are you that seriously naive?
      • @adornoe you should follow your own advise....

        "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt"
        Over and Out
  • RE: RE: FCC offers new broadband plan; avoids all-or-nothing approach

    The only bad thing about regulation is those who are so opposed to it and fight it so strongly that they end up compromising the regulatory system. Unfortunately, those who fight regulation fail to learn from past mistakes, or to see the facts of life before their eyes; banking deregulation = 2 housing market crashes, energy deregulation = enron, etc... Government regulation is there to "PROTECT" the small guy when the big guy plays "UNFAIR" because of power, money and influence.<br><br>Now, the broadband companies want to say that they deserve a cut of the profits for the money being made by certain websites. Perhaps they can even hold sites hostage and get kickbacks for providing better throughput. This is worst case scenario, this is what regulation will "PROTECT" us from.<br><br>Imagine your phone calls from your friends and family no longer getting through as often because of bandwidth throttling because telemarketers were paying for that usage, would you be happy to give up the convenience of using your phone whenever you felt like it? Of course not. Yet, are you ready to give up your broadband usage and let the broadband providers tell you when and what websites you can surf conveniently? I'm not. I pay my monthly bill to my cable provider, I want equal throughput no matter what I'm doing on the internet; no different then my expectations with my phone services.
    • You're blind as a bat...

      <i>Unfortunately, those who fight regulation fail to learn from past mistakes, or to see the facts of life before their eyes; banking deregulation = 2 housing market crashes, energy deregulation = enron, etc... </i>

      What you're failing to realize, or are too ignorant to realize, is that, many of the messes that we are trying to get ourselves out of have been created by too much government regulation or government intervention into the free-market system.

      The housing crisis was caused by government intervention into the mortgage industry. If you don't know how that happened, then it is you that is very ignorant about how we got into the messes we're in. If you don't really know what happened to get us into the mortgage mess we're in, then you have no business at all lecturing anyone else about government regulations or about how businesses are getting away with anything.

      I am not going to educate you on the causes of the housing crisis; it's up to you to educate yourself before opening up your mouth to utter your ignorance.

      So, why don't you go ahead and tell us what you really know about the "housing crisis" and the Enron swindle.

      And don't even try to lecture us about the FCC or government trying to protect us little people out here. The fact is that the FCC is overreaching and intervening where they have no business. And when it comes to "net neutrality", government doesn't have the right to dictate to Comcast or any other ISP about how they should run their businesses. The issue for the ISPs is not about controlling the content that people receive at home or at work. "Net neutrality" is a convenient term being used by some people in government and outside of government to twist the issue and to make people believe that the ISPs are trying to control the content. What the ISPs are doing is controlling the amount of broadband to certain content which can consume too much broadband and make things slower for others. If the ISPs were to try to control political speech or any other kind of speech, I'd be the first one to start complaining to those ISPs, and yes, even the government, about how freedom of the press and my free speech rights are being violated.

      And, again, it was government intervention that set up a lot of the monopolies that exist in broadband and on cable TV. When a problem exists, you don't go running to the people that created the problem to get them to fix the problem. You're liable to end up with bigger problems. Government is not solution; government is the problem.
      • What are you talking about?

        The housing crisis was created by the buying and selling of subprime mortgages. This could be done because of a LACK OF GOOD REGULATION.

        Anyway, the government has every right to tell businesses within their borders how to conduct business. >>;
        Michael Alan Goff
      • If you don't know what is being talked about, why participate

        in the discussion? It is incumbent upon you to educate yourself before participating in any discussion. You don't want to sound like a fool, do you? Wait... too late for that!

        <i>What are you talking about?</i>

        We're talking about things that you apparently have little or no knowledge about. Apparently you're out of your league and belong in some kiddy forum elsewhere. Perhaps Disney has a chat room for you.

        <i>The housing crisis was created by the buying and selling of subprime mortgages.</i>

        And those sub-prime mortgages came about because of the sub-prime lending encouraged by the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) which was passed by Carter and later got strong government enforcement rules/laws under Clinton.

        <i>This could be done because of a LACK OF GOOD REGULATION.</i>

        Yeah, but good regulation is very rare when government is just being intrusive, like with the CRA regulations. The CRA was just an instrument to get banks and lending institutions to hand out loans to people who couldn't afford to pay their loans and didn't even have down payments to get started in good terms with their loans. The CRA started a mortgage bubble which finally burst some 30 years later and brought down the economy.

        <i>Anyway, the government has every right to tell businesses within their borders how to conduct business. </i>

        In the U.S., there is no constitutional right for government, especially at the federal level, to tell businesses how they will be run.

        Because of heavy government regulations and high taxes, many businesses have had to close down or move operations overseas taking millions of jobs overseas. We are headed in the same direction as those European countries, such as Greece and Spain and Portugal, which are on the verge of collapse. It's going to take us a little bit longer because we are larger and we still have the strongest economy around. But, it's just a matter of time, perhaps 4 or 5 years at the most.

        Meanwhile, you should start paying a lot more attention to what happening around you and start looking at things objectively rather than through your ideological prism.