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The FCC is rolling out more regulation -- this time of the internet.
The FCC bids for greater regulatory authority, even as it tries to convince telecoms to embrace spectrum auction

National broadband was one of the key campaign promises that President Barack Obama made in 2008.  His Federal Communication Commission chief, Chairman Julius Genachowski, has tried to deliver on that promise, but has a difficult path ahead.

The FCC's plan to is to take spectrum from television, re-auction it to wireless companies, and use part of the proceeds to finance new lines for the broadband project.  The bid is complicated by the FCC's regulatory war with the same telecoms it hopes to sell spectrum too.

Last month, the FCC lost the first round in its battle with Comcast over internet throttling.  The FCC is trying to stop Comcast from blindly throttling certain kinds of traffic like peer-to-peer connections, commonly used for sharing music and other media.  A U.S. Federal Court ruled that the FCC did not have the power to stop Comcast from doing so.

Now the FCC has reclassified broadband internet from an information service to a telecommunications service, a move that should grant it greater regulatory authority.  The FCC promises it will not abuse the greater regulatory authority its seizing.  The FCC's top attorney, Austin Schlick, comments, "We have never gone back on forbearance.  We have a very strong track record."

Chairman Genachowski, who promised to apply regulation with a "light-touch", added that the approach was only an "interim" step and that he would prefer Congress to officially clarify the regulatory situation.

Verizon Communications Inc executive vice president Tom Tauke says that the plan to step up regulation 
will hurt the national broadband project.  He writes, "The regulatory and judicial proceedings that will ensue can only bring confusion and delay."

Republican FCC members Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker were also critical of the effort.  They write in a joint statement, "This proposal is disappointing and deeply concerns us.  It is neither a light-touch approach, nor a third way."

Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett, concurs, opining that the regulatory bump may not survive legal scrutiny.  He states, "It is extremely unclear whether reclassification will survive judicial review."

Meanwhile, the FCC is left trying to figure out to push both its regulatory and national broadband efforts, a dangerous dance that ultimately brings the future of both efforts into question.





"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis






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