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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

AT&T, Cable Tell FCC Not to Put Internet Under Telephone Rules

From Business Week:

AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. told U.S. officials to reject calls to move oversight of Internet service into the same “burdensome” regulatory category as telephones.

“Far-reaching and destructive consequences” would follow if the Federal Communications Commission treats Internet service as it has treated telephone service, which is more heavily regulated, the companies said in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Also signing the letter were Qwest Communications International Inc. and trade associations for the cable and phone industries.

The FCC is considering moving high-speed Internet service, or broadband, from a lightly regulated category, “reversing almost 10 years of deregulation,” Andrew Lipman, a Washington- based attorney for Bingham McCutchen LLP, said in an interview today. “That’s a fairly significant U-turn.”

Reclassification could be a way to solidify agency authority, which in January was questioned by judges hearing Comcast Corp.’s challenge to an FCC ruling, Lipman said.

An FCC spokesman, Jen Howard, declined to comment.

On Jan. 13, FCC senior counselor Colin Crowell said in an e-mail that if the appeals court “removed the legal foundations of the agency’s current policy framework, the commission would act expeditiously to ensure that consumers are fully protected.”

Very interesting. Your thoughts.

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