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Title II Off the Table?

Jeff Baumgartner
12/21/2010

3:00 PM -- The network neutrality rules voted in today by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made everyone unhappy to a degree, with many groups upset that they simply aren't strong enough. (See FCC Votes to Approve Net Neutrality Rules, MAP: Net Neut Rules 'Riddled With Loopholes', Free Press Blasts FCC's 'Fake' Net Neutrality Rules, and Groups Call for Real Net Neutrality .)

But those rules -- at least what we know about them before the FCC publishes the actual order later this week -- appear to be a win for cable because it's growing clear that the Commission (for now) won't pursue a stricter Title II (common carrier) definition on broadband services -- the so-called "Nuclear option."

Those offerings will continue on as "information services" under the less restrictive Title I banner, despite a desire by FCC commissioner Michael J. Copps, who ended up voting in favor of the rules, for the agency to impose Title II on broadband. (See Title II's Nuclear Fallout , Third Way or Third Rail?, and Cable Tees Off on FCC's 'Third Way' Proposal.)

So, there's probably no surprise that cable's reactions in the wake of today's vote were generally positive.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) EVP David Cohen posted a blog, holding that "this approach removes the cloud of Title II regulation that would unquestionably have harmed innovation and investment in the Internet and broadband infrastructure."

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) president and CEO said the negotiations that led to the new rules showed that consensus can be reached while avoiding "the extreme and counterproductive demands for rate regulation, unbundling of networks, and reclassification under Title II."

But both Cohen and McSlarrow said they'd reserve final judgment until after they get a chance to review the order in full.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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