By throwing out an FCC order punishing Comcast for blocking high volume Internet traffic in 2007, a U.S. Appeals Court in Washington, D.C. has potentially thrown the FCC's national broadband plan into turmoil, although Comcast maintains it will continue to work with the Commission on that and other issues.
The ruling was hailed as a victory for free enterprise and a potentially fatal blow to the FCC's national broadband plan to extend high-speed broadband to rural and poor households. On the other hand, even the victors were wary of what the FCC might do next, including move to further tighten a grip on broadband as a regulated telecommunications service and reclassifying the Internet "as a common carrier and subject it to price controls and public utility regulation," said Tom Lenard, president of the Comcast-funded Technology Policy Institute.
It's more likely the FCC will rethink its broadband policy while experiencing what Derek Turner, of Free Press, called an "existential crisis" that "has left the agency unable to protect consumers in the broadband market place and unable to implement the national broadband plan, which is clearly on life support as a result of the court's ruling."
Comcast, in a statement released yesterday, said its "primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation." Since the MSO is still dancing with the FCC as it attempts to merge with NBC Universal, it was more conciliatory than celebratory in its statement, noting that it "remains committed to the FCC's existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet."
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