Is the FCC's Grand Plan in Trouble?

11:35 AM -- The day after a defeat handed down by an appeals court, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) weighed in yesterday on its blog to explain how the court opinion on the Commission's original Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)/ BitTorrent Inc. order might affect the implementation of the recently proposed National Broadband Plan. (See Net Neutrality Ruling: FCC Loses, Comcast Wins.)

In the FCC's view, the court ruling "has no effect at all on most of the Plan," yet it also "may affect a significant number of important Plan recommendations." So, "yes and no," appears to be the Commission's position here.

But the FCC does go on to explain which parts of the Plan it thinks won't be affected, namely the making of spectrum available for broadband use, boosting the efficiency of wireless systems, and beefing up broadband in schools and working with Native American governments to promote high-speed service. (See The National Broadband Plan, FCC Proposes 300MHz More Spectrum by 2015, and FCC Sends Broadband Plan to Congress.)

The FCC warns, however, that the ruling could stymie its recommendations aimed at accelerating broadband access and adoption in rural and low-income parts of the country, as well as in Native American communities.

"The Commission must have a sound legal basis for implementing each of these recommendations," the FCC added. "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.

The FCC, however, has yet to say what exactly it will do next. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett outlined the FCC's possible options earlier this week, including a "nuclear" one that could see the agency try to reclassify broadband as a Title II Common Carrier service. If that happens (not any time soon), it could ensure a much heavier-handed, game-changing regulatory impact on broadband services. (See Did Comcast Really Win?)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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