Comcast won an important battle to control its broadband destiny this week, but the war--and especially the war of words--is hardly over. When the U.S. Court of Appeals slapped the FCC for over-regulating Comcast's Internet control, it ignited a firestorm of concern and potentially pushed the issue closer to a place where no one wants to go: Congress.
"We're about to see a brawl over broadband policy that could become as bitterly partisan as the recent battle over healthcare reform," David Lieberman predicted in USA Today. The court ruling, Lieberman said, "shot an arrow into the heart" of the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's plans to make broadband Internet as common as electricity.
The brawl will probably end up in Congress because that body caused the whole "net neutrality" problem in the first place by abdicating control of the matter in June 2006, argued Scott Fulton in Tech Policy & Law News. Rather than acting on legislation that would have set guidelines, Congress at that time "began a long and poorly camouflaged process of punting responsibility for the net neutrality issue over to the FCC."
Perhaps lost amid the rhetoric wildfire is the reason the whole fight started in the first place: Comcast felt it had a right to throttle bandwidth consumption by a few users that damaged the experience for the many. The FCC disagreed, citing its desire for a "free and open Internet" and Comcast took the case to court. What's next is anyone's guess, but the war is surely not over.
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