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No change coming to broadband in wake of FCC rule change

Nothing is going to happen, good or bad, with U.S. broadband for quite some time, in the wake of the FCC's rule change.
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Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Nothing is going to happen, good or bad, with U.S. broadband for quite some time, in the wake of the FCC's rule change.

The Bells insist they have the right to sue. "There is no Title 1 1/2" thundered NetCompetition, Scott Cleland's pro-Bell lobbying group. (That's Cleland at right in a PBS appearance.)

Former Republican Rep. Tom Tauke, now Verizon's top lobbyist, also told CNET the FCC lacks authority to reclassify broadband delivery as telephony but then forbear applying most rules on telephony to it. (The agency's argument on why Tauke is wrong can be found here.)

But saying a regulator "can't" do what they are doing and suing to stop it are two different things. The first is free. The second costs money.

Tauke suggested the FCC look to Congress, but current Congressional leaders have given the agency a green light to do what it's got to do. The key word in that last sentence is current. If Republicans seize Congress after November and seek a "minor" issue on which to challenge the Administration, they could turn to broadband.

The agency's own rules make waiting the right move. It has to vote on a detailed regulatory regime, it has to go through a comment period, it has to make a final rule -- the political situation regarding Congress will be much clearer by the time it's all done.

Perhaps the emptiest statement in the whole debate is the Bell threat not to invest in broadband unless the Bells get their way. Because they didn't do it during the last decade despite billions in subsidy designed to make them do it, and rule-making that went all their own way.

But with no new competitors promised, no competition forced onto the Bell lines, and with the Bells fighting the agency, the only clear fact is that users in the post-Obama years may still be have to make do with Clinton-era broadband.

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