FCC, neutrality and the courts: What's next?

FCC, neutrality and the courts: What's next?

Kate Gerwig  |   May 03, 2010
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the telecom industry it regulates are in a state of flux since the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled this month that FCC authority does not legally extend to regulating ISP traffic management decisions. That's a very broad generalization of what happened in this tangled tale. Something needs to happen, but the plan of action isn't clear yet.
The ruling sounds innocuous enough, but it has kicked up an amazing amount of dust and jumpstarted endless pontificating on other issues, including net neutrality (the principle that data packets on the internet should be moved impartially, without regard to content, destination or source), the national broadband plan, and all manner of things never even mentioned in the 26-page court ruling.
What's going on here? The actual court decision refers specifically to a 2008 FCC ruling that punished Comcast for quietly blocking BitTorrent peer-to-peer traffic on its network, which the commission considered a violation of net neutrality guidelines. Looking at the bigger picture, the FCC reprimand was a blow to net neutrality enthusiasts. Yet though the Appeals Court ruling has curbed the FCC's regulatory authority in one narrow case, no one knows what this will ultimately mean for net neutrality and the FCC's national broadband plan. As it stands, FCC authority to regulate anything concerning broadband might now be in jeopardy. Even so, the FCC is pressing forward, determined to provide broadband and justice for all.
So now what? FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is downplaying the meaning of the court's ruling, saying it doesn't change the FCC's ability to achieve its ultimate broadband goals. It's true that the concept of net neutrality isn't included in the national broadband plan, but if there were no nagging worries in the back of regulators' and lobbyists' brains, there wouldn't be such a kerfuffle of new organizations suddenly being formed to lobby for one side or the other.

Tell Us What You Think

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <a> <p> <span> <div> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <img> <img /> <map> <area> <hr> <br> <br /> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <table> <tr> <td> <em> <b> <u> <i> <strong> <font> <del> <ins> <sub> <sup> <quote> <blockquote> <pre> <address> <code> <cite> <embed> <object> <strike> <caption>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Use <!--pagebreak--> to create page breaks.

More information about formatting options

Video from Telecom Channel

It's all about being connected, but what does that mean for telcos?
Being connected anywhere, anytime, anyhow is the cornerstone of Amdocs ' Connected World' concept. Kevin Corcoran explains how it works.    


Robert Clark
Telstra-NBN unlikely to be major wholesalers, says Ovum
Joseph Waring
Bad customer service is everywhere in the telco industry
David Kennedy/Ovum
A heads of agreement, not a final deal
Lisa Mitnick, Accenture
Operators are positioned to take the lead in embedded mobile systems by leveraging their strong brands and sales and marketing capabilities
John C. Tanner
It's not clear how consumers benefit from industry-preferred model of exclusive TV content contracts
Robert Clark
Try a checklist if your company has walls that need breaking down or information to be shared


Douglas MacMillan and Joseph Galante
After years of losing ground to Amazon in traditional online retailing
Robert Synnestvedt, Cisco
Backhaul networks deserve the same type of undivided attention we've traditionally given radios

MWC2010 List

HTC guns for top 3 smartphone makers
Powermat wants to charge your desktop
Femtos outlook improves as cellcos seek offload options
Cheaper smartphones key to broadband takeup

Frontpage Content by Category

Industry experts put their heads together and stick their necks out to call the big trends for 2010


Staff writer
Editor's shock at $2,000 data service bill
Staff writer
Lim Chuan Poh will vacate his position by year-end