The FCC considers broadband service a sort of hybrid between an information service and a utility and that it has sufficient power to regulate Internet traffic under existing law, despite recent court cases that say it doesn't. Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC had exceeded its authority by telling Comcast the nation's largest cable company, that it had to give Internet users equal access to all online content providers, even if some of their content was clogging Comcast's network.
The FCC decision is likely to be seen as a victory for OTT providers. The FCC has limited authority over information services but it has vast powers to regulate certain utilities. It contends that a mix of those powers can be applied to broadband service.
“The chairman will seek to restore the status quo as it existed prior to the court decision,” a senior FCC official said, “to fulfill the previously stated agenda of extending broadband to all Americans, protecting consumers, ensuring fair competition, and preserving a free and open Internet,” the NYT reported a commissioner as saying.
The FCC is expected to assert that the agency, under its powers to regulate phone service, is permitted to require broadband service providers to follow certain transmission guidelines, including safeguarding privacy, not discriminating against certain types of content providers, offering service to rural customers at the same rate as urban customers and providing access to people with disabilities.