13
Apr
10

An Internet for Everybody

A federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the legal authority to tell Comcast not to block certain uses of its Internet access services. This decision has become a rip-the-Band-Aid-off moment for the regulatory agency, forcing it to reconsider its effort to impose “network neutrality” by requiring that Internet access providers treat all content equally.

It also puts a substantial roadblock in the path of the commission’s National Broadband Plan, which proposes to spend billions of dollars to help provide Internet access, rather than phone access, for people in rural areas.

But the F.C.C. needn’t change either strategy. It can regain its authority to pursue both network neutrality and widespread access to broadband by formally relabeling Internet access services as “telecommunications services,” rather than “information services,” as they are called now. All the commission needs to do is prove it has a good reason.

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