At Broadband.gov, FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick responds to the ruling in the Comcast/BitTorrent case, and how the agency believes it might affect its National Broadband Plan:
[Y]esterday’s decision may affect a significant number of important Plan recommendations. Among them are recommendations aimed at accelerating broadband access and adoption in rural America; connecting low-income Americans, Native American communities, and Americans with disabilities; supporting robust use of broadband by small businesses to drive productivity, growth and ongoing innovation; lowering barriers that hinder broadband deployment; strengthening public safety communications; cybersecurity; consumer protection, including transparency and disclosure; and consumer privacy. The Commission must have a sound legal basis for implementing each of these recommendations. We are assessing the implications of yesterday’s decision for each one, to ensure that the Commission has adequate authority to execute the mission laid out in the Plan.
At the Washington Post, tech writer Cecilia Kang breaks down the FCC’s options now that it has lost its case against Comcast. Those options: 1) Reclassifying broadband as a Title II service; 2) Seek power to regulate the Internet from Congress; 3) appeal the ruling.
Talk of the digital divide usually centers around connecting America’s minority communities. But many senior citizens are also affected, and as PC World reports, a new group is hoping to change that:
Broadband offers many benefits for older U.S. residents, including telemedicine, increased contact with family and friends, and shopping without leaving the house, but they subscribe to the service at a much lower rate than other people, some advocates for the elderly said Tuesday.
In an effort to change that trend, several technology vendors and groups that work with older people on Tuesday launched Project GOAL (Get Older Adults Online), an organization that plans to serve as a clearinghouse for programs and resources. Project GOAL will work with organizations working with the aging population to stress the benefits of broadband and to connect older adults with services such as computer training, said Debra Berlyn, executive director of Project GOAL.
In the wake of the FCC’s loss in federal appeals court on Tuesday, The Hill reports that early reactions on Capitol Hill are so far breaking along partisan lines. First up, a statement from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas):
The DC Circuit’s decision should mean that litigation plays out to a logical conclusion and in the meantime, the FCC should not reclassify information services as Title 2 services... The guiding principle is already explicit in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, where the government is directed ‘to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.’”
On the other side of the Title II debate is Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass):
This is a history-making decision. It appears to vacate the authority of the FCC to conduct oversight over broadband service and the telephone and cable giants that own the wires... I am not advocating that the FCC reclassify broadband services as a result of this decision, but I absolutely believe they maintain that legal authority and it would be entirely consistent with the history of communications law in our country if they did.
Via Ars Technica, Google’s acquisition of online advertising company AdMob is not sitting well with the Federal Trade Commission:
According to people “familiar with the matter” speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC has sent letters asking AdMob’s competitors to testify about the impact of the purchase and has briefed members of Congress on its concerns. The Commission has also put together a litigation team “to prepare for a possible effort to block the deal,” though a final decision has not yet been made.
At issue is Google’s dominance in the online advertising market. But as All Things Digital reports, a rumored entry into online advertising by a Google rival may help soothe things over with the FTC:
Apple is likely to introduce its mobile ad platform Thursday at its iPhone developer event, say sources familiar with the company’s plans. Expect to hear a loud cheer from Google, Apple’s former ally and current competitor.
Why would Google applaud the entrance of a new advertising rival? Because Google is trying to convince federal regulators that it has advertising rivals so that it can proceed with its $750 million purchase of AdMob. That deal is being held up for review by the Federal Trade Commission, and there have been consistent murmurs from Washington that the purchase could be in jeopardy.
In a ruling that could have major implications for both net neutrality and the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, a federal appeals court has determined that the commission over-reached when they banned Comcast from blocking some of their subscribers from BitTorrent.
“The FCC is firmly committed to promoting an open Internet and to policies that will bring the enormous benefits of broadband to all Americans. It will rest these policies — all of which will be designed to foster innovation and investment while protecting and empowering consumers — on a solid legal foundation.
Today’s court decision invalidated the prior Commission’s approach to preserving an open Internet. But the Court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet; nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.”
Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its opinion in Comcast v. FCC, No. 08-1291, which petitioned the Court to review an FCC Order issued in August of 2008.
The unanimous opinion, written by Circuit Judge Tatel and joined by Chief Judge Sentelle and Senior Circuit Judge Randolph, found for Comcast, granting the petition for review and vacating the FCC Order.
Comcast issued the following statement attributable to Sena Fitzmaurice, Vice President of Government Communications:
“We are gratified by the Court’s decision today to vacate the previous FCC’s order. Our primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation. We have always been focused on serving our customers and delivering the quality open-Internet experience consumers want. Comcast remains committed to the FCC’s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.”
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