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After Wheeler unveils proposal, what's next for net neutrality?

Grant Gross | Feb. 6, 2015
Expect Republicans to push for their bill in Congress and broadband providers to sue in the coming months.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the largest wired broadband providers in the U.S., aren't likely to challenge the rules because they are also asking the FCC for permission to merge.

It's unclear how the appeals court would rule on broadband reclassification. Critics say the FCC has not made a good argument for the need to reverse a decade of light regulation, but FCC officials say they are on solid legal ground. The appeals court, in its 2014 rejection of the FCC's 2010 rules, largely ignored reclassification as an option, instead pointing the agency toward a section of the Telecom Act that allows the agency to encourage broadband deployment.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2005 Brand X decision involving the FCC, ruled that administrative agencies can change their policies if they come up with good reasons to do so.

The Brand X case, ironically, gave the FCC the authority to deregulate broadband and classify it as an information service. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the agency had reasonably interpreted the Telecom Act when classifying cable broadband as a lightly regulated service, but the court majority also ruled that lower courts must defer to a reasonable interpretation of the Telecom Act by the FCC.

 

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