Net neutrality: Providers grudgingly OK, but Congress another matter

While service providers such as AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and even industry organizations like the NCTA and USTelecom have grudgingly praised the FCC for its willingness to compromise on the issue of net neutrality, the agency's power to do anything about broadband regulation appears limited, if not defeated, by an increasingly aggressive Congress.

"In absence of clear authority, the FCC should defer to Congress in this matter," Republican Congressmen Cliff Stearns of Florida and Joe Barton of Texas wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Still, the issue appears headed for the Dec. 21 FCC meeting where Commissioner Michael Copps said the discussion will revolve around protecting public Internet service with "rules (that) must be put on the most solid possible legal foundation and be quickly and effectively enforceable." This, he said, includes the potential of Title II regulation which, if needed, "we should just do it and get it over with."

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