Contrary to the media frenzy in the wake of a U.S. District Court decision rejecting attempts by the FCC to impose its will on Comcast, there were actually no broader implications regarding the general authority of the FCC. Thus, Net Neutrality and the National Broadband Plan remain alive and well.
Contrary to many reports, the court decision was not a broad swipe at the FCC. It was a specific ruling about a specific incident, based on the methods used by the FCC at the time it sought to bar Comcast from arbitrarily discriminating against peer-to-peer network traffic. The court ruling did imply that the FCC has no authority to oversee entities like Comcast. The court found that the FCC failed to do so properly only in this situation.
“The court decision…does not change our broadband policy goals, or the ultimate authority of the FCC to act to achieve those goals. The court did not question the FCC’s goals; it merely invalidated one technical, legal mechanism for broadband policy chosen by prior commissions,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.
The FCC, unhindered by the court decision in the Comcast case, is proceeding with plans to begin implementing aspects of the National Broadband Plan.
At a news conference last week, Genachowski said he there was no hurry for an FCC response to the court’s decision, beyond saying lawyers were working on a solid legal foundation. Asked why he had no timetable, the chairman said he had “excellent” lawyers at work and that he would tackle those legal issues “as we have to.”
The FCC has planned more than 60 rulemaking and notice-and-comment proceedings on the Broadband Plan. It is the goal of the commission to begin implementing the plan through these sessions that will be open to all interested parties.