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Supreme Court Will Review Brand X Case

Cable industry lawyers are exchanging high-fives today after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take a hotly disputed case involving the regulatory classification of cable-modem service. In a widely awaited announcement Friday, the high court said it will review a controversial lower court decision that could lead to open-access mandates for cable operators. The earlier ruling in the Brand X case, handed down by the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California, classified cable high-speed data as partly a telecom service. That would leave it open to traditional phone regulations, which mandate line-sharing. So cable operators could find themselves facing open-access obligations if the Ninth Circuit's ruling stands. With backing from both the cable and phone industries, the FCC has sought to treat cable data as solely an unregulated information service. But the Ninth Circuit, standing by its earlier decision, turned down the agency's appeal. Now, the Supreme Court will apparently decide the issue sometime in the spring. Cable lawyers are hopeful that the high court will rule in the industry's favor because the justices, if they agreed with the Ninth Circuit, could have just rejected the case. But consumer advocates and ISPs, while disappointed by the review decision, said they're also confident of winning.
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