FCC announces Title II lite for net neutrality
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says the agency will use a stripped-down version of Title II reclassification to move forward with net neutrality regulation in the wake of the Comcast decision.
The agency will reclassify only the transmission component of broadband service as a telecommunications service under Title II, while renouncing “application of the many sections of the Communications Act that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service.”
Genachowski said the partial reclassification would restore the status quo for net neutrality.
“It would not change the range of obligations that broadband access service providers faced pre-Comcast. It would not give the FCC greater authority than the Commission was understood to have pre-Comcast. And it would not change established policy understandings at the FCC, such as the existing approach to unbundling or the practice of not regulating broadband prices or pricing structures. It would merely restore the longstanding deregulatory – as opposed to “no-regulatory” or “over-regulatory” –compact,” he said.
Genachowski compared the FCC’s approach to net neutrality as similar to the way the agency regulates the wireless industry. Congress mandated that the FCC subject wireless communications to the same Title II provisions for telecommunications services, while also directing that the FCC consider forbearing from applying many of these provisions to the wireless marketplace.
“The Commission did significantly forbear, and the telecommunications industry has repeatedly and resoundingly lauded this approach as well-suited to an emerging technology and welcoming to investment and innovation,” Genachowski said. “In short, the proposed approach is already tried and true.”
Going forward, the FCC will seek public comment on its proposal to reclassify portions of broadband service under Title II. The agency also will seek comment on whether wired and wireless broadband access should be treated differently, which has been heavily lobbied for by the wireless industry.
Genachowski’s announcement comes one day after influential lawmakers Henry Waxman and John Rockefeller encouraged the Commission to consider all viable options, including a change in classification.
“In the long term, if there is a need to rewrite the law to provide consumers, the Commission and industry with a new framework for telecommunications policy, we are committed as committee chairmen to doing so,” the two lawmakers said in a letter sent to Genachowski  yesterday.