The Federal Communications Commission appears split on whether it should reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service in order to get around a court decision that blocked it from enacting net neutrality reform.
Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled the FCC did not have regulatory authority to require broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic on their networks equally.
Specifically, the court rejected the FCC’s assertion that it has authority to set rules for information services like broadband.
The FCC could get around the ruling by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, but the agency’s commissioners appear split on such a move.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps supports the reclassification of broadband, saying in a statement that the “only way the Commission can make lemonade out of this lemon of a decision is to do now what should have been done years ago: Treat broadband as the telecommunications service that it is.”
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn voiced similar views, saying that the court’s decision “does not change the importance of our goal, nor should it weaken our resolve” to preserve net neutrality.
Commissioner Robert McDowell opposed the possible reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service, saying he hoped the court’s decision will “provide certainty in the marketplace and will not lead to the unnecessary classification of broadband service as a monopoly phone service under Title II of the Act.”
Similarly, Commissioner Meredith Baker said she would oppose “calls to use the court’s decision as a pretext to reclassify broadband Internet access services under monopoly-era Title II regulation.”
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski did not issue separate comments on the court’s ruling. In a statement, FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard said the court “in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet, nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.”