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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 05, 2010

Comcast Case Could Challenge FCC's Broadband Plan

By Alice Straight, TMCnet Web Editor

The FCC (News - Alert)may face problems rolling out its National Broadband Plan if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decides it lacks sufficient authority to regulate broadband services.

The expansion of broadband services is the centerpiece to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's (News - Alert)administration.

The FCC, which contends it has broad authority over broadband regulation, plans to take spectrum from television broadcasters to wireless carriers with burgeoning smart phone supplies as well as expand broadband access.

If the court rules against the FCC in the net neutrality case, which centers on a 2008 decision by the FCC to censure Comcast (News - Alert)for throttling bandwidth-hogging online file sharing services for video and TV shows, the regulatory body can reclassify broadband from its current status as a lightly-regulated information service to existing rules governing telephone services.

To reclassify broadband the FCC would need to build a case and collect data to show that it should be treated similar to telephone services because consumers are fixated on two aspects which also happen to be the items companies market: speed and price.

The other two ways of handling a non-favorable court ruling would be to ask Congress to rewrite the laws to give FCC's powers over broadband access and content or two appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Alice Straight is a TMCnet editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Alice Straight