The FCC took steps today toward clarifying its authority to protect open Internet access. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski took a middle ground approach to narrowly reclassify the transmission component of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service. Under this moderate “third way,” the FCC would excuse Internet Access Providers (IAPs) from price regulation, wholesale unbundling and other traditional mandates.Based on actions by the FCC under the Bush administration, Genachowski was left with two unappealing choices following a recent court decision in the Comcast case. Either the FCC could continue trying to rely on Title I of the Communications Act to preserve the open Internet or rely on full Title II common carrier provisions that give the Commission authority over telecommunications services.The Computer & Communications Industry Association represents a diverse array of communications and tech companies that all have an interest in the FCC’s handling of broadband Internet access. The following comments can be attributed to Ed Black, CCIA President & CEO:

“The previous administration tried to lump enhanced data information services and communications services together. It’s becoming clear to more people that that was the wrong approach and the FCC’s new direction would correct that. Genachowski’s hybrid approach recognizes the distinction between applications, online data services and media content on the one hand, and essential underlying telecommunications transport services on the other.

“By acknowledging that Title II of the (Communications) Act governs interstate telecommunications, including broadband transmission services sold as Internet access, this move wisely correct a previous misstep and would keep the FCC on solid legal ground to maintain nondiscriminatory access to an open Internet. It will not limit what information services may also be sold by IAPs.

“The FCC is trying to preserve Internet freedom and minimize Internet regulation. Genachowski understands that heavy-handed regulation can chill innovation. This light touch approach helps ensure access to an open Internet for households, students, entrepreneurs and small businesses without regulating the Internet itself.”

 

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