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What the heck the Comcast-FCC case means
Saturday, 06 March 2010 00:00
Comcast's FCC "net neutrality" case was won on a crucial technicality, not the issue of net neutrality. Years back, the FCC decided to limit rules computer services, which they call Title I. Broadband was considered a Title II "telecommunications" service until Powell/Martin decided to call it Title I by a 3-2 vote.
      Martin's ruling on Comcast was that even though broadband was Title I, the FCC had authority to regulate under "ancillary powers." That's what the court today over ruled.
       The FCC can change the classification and declare broadband Title II, which the three Democratic commissioners suggested they will do in statements. The original court decision on Title I/Title II was clear it was up to the FCC to decide, so it should be upheld. They can get Congress to change the law, which Senator Kerry today suggested. They may also find a loophole; Kevin Werbach says that the decision gives them possibilities.
      If the FCC can't regulate broadband in any way, they may bot be able to implement key parts of the broadband plan, including universal service (widely supported), basic consumer protections, public safety priority in emergencies, and much else. So they probably will do something.