| WASHINGTON, June 17
WASHINGTON, June 17 The U.S. Federal
Communications Commission has released a proposal to regulate
high-speed Internet access despite complaints by big telephone
and Internet providers who do not want more regulation.
The FCC has said its broadband Internet plan goes light on
regulations, but companies like AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon
Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) worry that
a future presidential administration could renege on that
pledge. (For more on this story, click here: [nN17264805])
Here are possible scenarios for the outcome of broadband
ACTION AS SOON AS THIS YEAR
The FCC will digest information collected from public
comments to determine how to regulate broadband Internet access
through landlines and airwaves to wireless devices.
A formal proposal could include another public comment
period and a rule in which the five commissioners would accept
or reject with a vote. Or it could skip the proposal and say it
will regulate broadband under existing phone regulations. That
could happen this year.
A formal FCC rule could clear the way for the agency to
start implementing the National Broadband Plan.
STUCK IN COURT, MAYBE FOR YEARS
Companies squeamish about more regulation have said they
would challenge the FCC's action in court, something that could
take years to resolve.
The FCC likely would argue that it has the authority to
reclassify broadband and companies are likely to argue that the
FCC is overstepping its bounds. A U.S. appeals court already
has questioned the FCC's authority in this area.
Congress is considering whether to give the FCC clear
Proponents of broadband regulation want closure on this
issue, but the process could take several years to get through
Congress. More Republicans in the next session of Congress
could strengthen the industry's position against regulations.
Lawmakers are considering a "surgical strike" or a "rifle
shot" approach for near-term changes to the U.S. communications
law to give the FCC limited broadband authority. This option's
chances of happening are slimming as November elections near.
A short-term legislative fix could give the FCC the surest
and fastest approach to move forward with its National
(Reporting by John Poirier. Editing by Robert MacMillan)