Will A Third Way for Broadband in the United States Work?

The United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman believes he has a compromise to the broadband debate.  Julius Genachowski’s strategy to deliver high speed Internet connections to all U.S. citizens takes a new direction.  The kink in the chairman’s proposal is the question of how much authority the FCC has over Internet Service Providers.  Broadcasters are watching closely from the sideline his plan to divide the broadcast television spectrum.

PC Magazine uses the chairman’s own words, “third way,” to headline the FCC’s new plan  Genachowski proposes to redefine the Internet as a telecommunications service.  Doing so gives the federal commission authority to regulate ISPs.  The chairman’s sticky wicket is Net neutrality.  He’s  straddling the divide between consumers and providers, both Internet and television.

The Appellate Court ruling in April of this year bridled the agency’s reach for the National Broadband PlanPC Magazine explains Genachowski’s setback as “reclassifying only the transmission component of the broadband access service as a telecommunications service.”  It’s sort of partial enforcement of telecommunications rules when it comes to broadband.

The Chairman issued a statement saying “the FCC should adopt a restrained approach to broadband communications, one carefully balanced to unleash investment and innovation while also protecting and empowering consumers.”  Where will the balancing act land the broadband initiative?

The commission’s next open meeting is June 17, 2010.  Here’s a paragraph from the news release on the June meeting’s agenda:

“Framework for Broadband Internet Service NOI: A Notice of Inquiry to begin an open, public process to consider possible legal frameworks for broadband Internet services in order to promote innovation and investment, protect and empower consumers, and bring the benefits of broadband to all Americans.” 

The National Association of Broadcasters’ position “is working to promote spectrum policies that do not restrict consumer access to the full potential of digital television (DTV), including high definition (HD) and multicast programming and mobile DTV.”

There is a lot of fence straddling going on with a nationwide broadband plan.  What do you think?  Do you plan to file a comment with the FCC?

Broadcast Newsroom Computing next considers investigative journalism and new technology.

James Rowe

Rowe and Company, LLC

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