A Cautious Approach to Net Neutrality, A Third Way

Yesterday, the major news of the day was the Dow dropping 1000 points in just a few minutes. However, for the world of telecom, it was the notice that FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, was going to release a statement regarding the regulation of broadband carriers. Broadvox management has been discussing the impact of a major change for weeks. Additionally, those of you that have been regular readers of my blog know that I support Net Neutrality as a member of the IP ecosystem and as a consumer of broadband services. However, the recent Comcast decision had many others and me nervously awaiting a decision. A full transition to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act would have required major changes to Broadvox's business practices. Frankly, given the partisan nature of government today, I expected the worst. Previously, I implored Mr. Genachowski to use a scalpel to address the actions of Comcast (although I seriously doubt he reads this blog). Some wanted no regulation, thereby killing net neutrality, or full regulation, thereby threatening the growth of broadband and Internet applications.

Interestingly, several weeks ago, I stated that we needed to have a third approach to political positions. Currently, we accept that the phrases of "both sides", "left and right", "other side of the aisle" as containing all of the options available to a position. Lately, I have pushed the concept of a "third dimension" of thought. Therefore, I was brimming with hope when I read the title of the announcement "The Third Way: A Narrowly Tailored Broadband Framework". Imagine my surprise; we may actually see a solution that addresses the primary concerns of net neutrality and broadband carrier network management.

In brief, the FCC Chairman wants to apply a limited set of Title II provisions (Sections 201, 202, 208, 222, 254, and 255) to regulate the transmission component of broadband access services and forbid application of the many sections of the Communications Act that are unnecessary and inappropriate. This would allow ITSPs, ISPs, cable companies, etc. to continue to change and implement pricing without filing tariffs. The status quo would be maintained where the existing approach to the practice of not regulating broadband prices or pricing structures would be reaffirmed.

To quote Genachowski, "I am pleased the General Counsel and staff have identified a third-way approach--a legal anchor that gives the Commission only the modest authority it needs to foster a world-leading broadband infrastructure for all Americans while definitively avoiding the negative consequences of a full reclassification and broad application of Title II."

Time will tell if this ends up being the ultimate course of action. And if it is, it will be a good day for the IP community, businesses, investors, consumers and the US economy.

See you on Monday with another original recipe. Have a great weekend.

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