Close readers of Swampland will remember that the Federal Communications Commission lost a big battle in the broadband regulation war back in April, when a federal court ruled that the agency did not have the legal authority to regulate what happens over broadband wires. Today, the FCC will come back with a plan to reestablish its authority. From Cecelia Kang at the Washington Post:
A senior FCC official said Wednesday that Chairman Julius Genachowski’s move would be a “third way,” between the industry’s current state of deregulation and a more comprehensive regulatory approach. Broadband is now defined as an information service with weak FCC oversight. The proposal would put Internet service providers in a category with telephone service, which is more clearly under the agency’s authority.
However, the move would stop short of subjecting Internet providers to the full range of requirements imposed on telecom companies, such as oversight of price and billing practices or a rule that would force network providers to share lines with competitors. It also would govern only the companies that own the networks, not the services they transmit.
Net Neutrality–the principal that those who own the Internet pipes should not be able to give preference to certain Internet content–is at the center of this fight, and it is far from over. In homage to my link to the Center for Responsive Politics yesterday, here is a snapshot of campaign donations from the communications industry. AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, the three big opponents of Net Neutrality, are the top three donors in the sector. Online companies like Google, Netflix and Skype tend to be the big corporate supporters of Net Neutrality, but they give less money in general.