FCC proposes broadband deregulation

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently proposed to define high-speed broadband connections as information services, which would free providers in that country from the web of regulation that surrounds telecommunication services.

The issue of defining broadband services is one of a handful of proceedings the FCC is considering that collectively will shape how broadband technology is regulated.

Limiting the risk and uncertainty of regulation and lowering the cost of infrastructure investment are two goals that will govern the FCC’s actions regarding broadband, said FCC chairman Michael Powell.

“We must now clarify the regulatory classification and treatment of these new services, so companies – incumbents and competitors alike – know what to expect and can make prudent decisions to build and enter these new markets,” Powell said during an FCC meeting.

By refraining from painting broadband services with the same regulatory brush as telecommunications services, the FCC would attempt to create a level playing field for service providers in this market – whether they be incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), or cable network operators, one policy analyst said.

“I think this could be an important first step in terms of creating parity between different providers of similar broadband services,” said Adam Thierer, director of telecommunications studies with Cato Institute, a public policy group in Washington, D.C. “Hopefully this is the first step on the road (away from) FCC efforts to pigeonhole new technologies into old regulations.”