The FCC postpones a meeting, leading to speculation that the agency is preparing to vote on net neutrality.
The Federal Communications Commission announced it is delaying a meeting
concerning net neutrality to Dec. 21 from Dec. 2, leading some to speculate the
agency is preparing to vote on the controversial issue.
Net neutrality is a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet
service providers on the content and sites users might access. "An extra
week will help us evaluate potential agenda items for December," Jen
Howard, a spokeswoman for the FCC, told
the Washington Post last
In September, legislation aimed at regulating how Internet providers such as
Comcast offer Internet service to their customers collapsed. The bill,
sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman and Sen. Harry Waxman,
D-Calif., would have curbed the FCC's ability to enforce the guidelines laid
out in the bill after two years. The agency would also not be allowed to impose
additional rules on Internet service providers, a leaked draft of the bill
A lack of support from Republicans made it impossible for the legislation to
pass before Congress' midterm elections, Waxman said following the collapse.
The proposed legislation was termed as a temporary fix to protect net
neutrality while Congress considered a permanent solution. Waxman's proposal
for the FCC would see the agency move phone and cable companies into the Title
II, or Broadcast Servers, section of the Telecommunications Act passed in 1996.
Title II outlines the granting and licensing of broadcast spectrum by the
government, including a provision to issue licenses to current television
stations to commence digital television broadcasting, the terms of broadcast
licenses, direct broadcast satellite services and restrictions on over-the-air
"The signals out there seem to be they are in fact contemplating a vote
in December," Jeffrey Silva, a telecommunications policy analyst with
Medley Global Advisors, told
Reuters about the
meeting's rescheduling. "The situation's very fluid at the present time,
and I think they're carefully considering the message they've received from
Capitol Hill and trying to figure out their next step."
Silva told Reuters that whatever comes out would leave a lot of flexibility
for wireless in light of their spectrum challenges and some of the different
network management challenges they have. "Post midterm [elections], the
prospects are less that the FCC would go forward with the [reclassification]
option. You have to wonder what the incentive would be for the industry to go
along with any kind of regulatory add-on," he said.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently blamed the lack of a new policy for
network neutrality on a federal court's decision to expel his agency's bid to
regulate Comcast's online management. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit threw out the FCC's decision to regulate Comcast's
online management April 6, it derailed the FCC's plans, Genachowski said
The chairman made the comments at the Web 2.0 Summit in Washington earlier
this month, noting the agency was "on course to adopt smart, sensible
rules when we got a frustrating and seriously incorrect decision" that
caused additional complications for the FCC. "We're dealing with
that," he said. "We have terrific, smart lawyers trying to figure out
the best way, the best basis on which we can rest rules. That will happen."