FCC Will Focus on Broadband Classification in June Meeting

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission today said its June 17 regular meeting will focus on the legal classification of broadband. The commission said it will open a Notice of Inquiry “to begin an open, public process to consider possible legal frameworks for broadband Internet services.”

The announcement noted that April’s federal court decision put the current framework in doubt. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC could not prohibit Comcast to regulate the bit-rates of its broadband subscribers. The decision was based in part on how broadband is legally classified.

“Nearly a decade has passed since the commission gathered the record on which the current legal classification of broadband Internet service is based,” the FCC said. “Congress has recently reaffirmed the FCC’s limited-but-vital role with respect to broadband, and the commission has fulfilled Congress’s mandate to develop a National Broadband Plan recommending specific agency actions to encourage deployment and adoption.”

The FCC’s NOI will solicit feedback on whether to maintain broadband’s classification as an “information service,” or to change it to the more heavily regulated “telecommunications” category. A third alternative would be to leave Internet content under the first classification and move connectivity into the second.
-- Deborah D. McAdams