Stakeholders Speak out on Court Decision, Wait for FCC's Next Move

Lora Bentley

The federal appellate court decision in favor of Comcast over the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday has been the talk of the tech sector. The court determined the FCC did not have authority to tell Comcast (or any other Internet service provider, for that matter) how to manage the traffic on its network.


As I mentioned Tuesday, the Open Internet Coalition has already called for the FCC to explore how else it might have the authority to protect the Internet. Other stakeholders in the net neutrality debate or the national broadband plan are also making their feelings known. For instance, Media Access Project VP Parul P. Desai said:

Media Access Project continues to maintain that the Commission must have the authority to protect all Internet users against harmful and anticompetitive conduct by Internet service providers. We will continue to work with the Commission to ensure that it has the ability to protect the rights of Internet users to access lawful content and services...


In addition, media reform organization Free Press is coordinating Coalition to lobby for continued Internet freedom and net neutrality, in spite of the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The coalition is soliciting signatures from supporters on a letter it plans to send to Congress. From the letter:

More than 1.7 million Americans have expressed support for Net Neutrality at Congress and the FCC. They want control over the Internet to remain in the hands of the people who use it every day.


Ars Technica's Matthew Lasar agrees that this fight isn't over. He explains there are two options: 1) The FCC can reclassify broadband service to fall under Title II of the Communications Act, and then use Title II authority to enforce net neutrality rules. 2) Congress can give the commission "a clean but limited grant of authority to preserve the openness and neutrality of Americans' 'last mile' access to the Internet."


Republican members of the FCC are not at all excited about the possibility of reclassifying broadband services under the Communications Act. Ars quotes Meredith Attwell Baker this way:

With regard to the substantive policy at issue in this case-net neutrality-I would oppose calls to use the court's decision as a pretext to reclassify broadband Internet access services under monopoly era Title II regulation.


On the other hand, the chances of Congress accomplishing much on the issue when they are still "polarized" over passage of health care reform, Lasar says, are slim. So for now, everyone is watching to see what the FCC will do next.

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