All of the hullabaloo over net neutrality in the wake of an appeals court ruling against the FCC may have been for naught. According to reports published on Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to leave broadband deregulated rather than pursuing reclassification as some supporters had hoped.
The news comes in the weeks after a federal judge said the FCC overstepped its bounds in 2008 in trying punish Comcast Corp. for slowing peer-to-peer Internet traffic. The case was seen as a gauge for policymakers’ appetite for overseeing network management and open Internet matters in the United States. And now, it seems, Genachowski may be leaving the issue alone.
Groups such as Public Knowledge and Free Press, and even some CLECs, had pushed for Genachowski to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications, rather than an information, service. That way, they argued, the FCC would have the authority to slap providers’ hands if and when they try to slow or block users’ Internet access.
But anonymous sources told The Washington Post this weekend Genachowski, who is expected to respond to the court decision soon, likely will opt to keep the rules as they are. They said Genachowski believes reclassifying broadband would deter operators’ investment but that he also sees the current setup as problematic when the FCC needs to intervene.
If Genachowski maintains a hands-off approach, companies including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast will cheer the decision. Google Inc. and Skype may not see matters the same way, as they fear operators could degrade their traffic.