The FCC said a notice of inquiry on Chairman Julius Genachowski's controversial plan to reclassify broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act will be on the agenda of its June meeting.
The notice marks the beginning of a public process to consider possible legal frameworks for broadband Internet services after a U.S. appeals court ruled the FCC lacked authority to regulate the services because they are classified under Title I of the Communications Act in the Comcast v. FCC case.
"Until the recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Comcast Corp. v. FCC, the Commission's approach to broadband Internet service combined minimal regulation with meaningful agency oversight," the agency said. "The Comcast opinion, however, cast serious doubt on prior understandings about the FCC's ability to ensure fair competition and provide consumers with basic protections when they use today's broadband Internet services."
The notice will ask for public comment on several elements of the agency's net neutrality agenda, including whether the FCC's "information service" classification of broadband Internet service is legally sound, the practical consequences of classifying broadband Internet connectivity as a "telecommunications service" under Title II and the viability of Genachowski's proposed "third way."
Genachowski's so-called "third way" approach would place broadband Internet services under Title II but forebear from using many of the heavy-handed regulations associated with the classification. The move has created a good deal of alarm in the wireless industry because operators fear the reclassification could limit their ability to manage their networks.
The agency will also seek comment on the appropriate classification of wireless- and satellite-based broadband Internet services. The wireless industry has lobbied the FCC to apply different regulations to spectrum-based broadband services.
The FCC is also considering adding a seventh section to the Title II regulations that will require the agency to inform Congress about barriers that stop women and minority groups from entering the market, according to unnamed sources cited by Multichannel News.