The Federal Communications Commission announced on Thursday its plan to modify how it regulates broadband Internet services by outlining a "third way" that would allow the commission to reclassify the "transmission component" of the Internet as a telecommunications service.
The FCC’s push to expand its influence over the Internet through a universal broadband plan and other initiatives hit a roadblock in April when a federal appeals court ruled the commission did not have the jurisdiction to require "net neutrality." At the time, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he did not think the FCC would have to reclassify the Internet in order to establish jurisdiction but did not rule out the possibility.
Genachowski characterized Thursday’s plan not as a complete reclassification to the Internet under the Communications Act but instead described it as a narrow reclassification that is comparable to the FCC’s approach to wireless communications regulation.
"I am pleased the General Counsel and staff have identified a third-way approach — a legal anchor that gives the Commission only the modest authority it needs to foster a world-leading broadband infrastructure for all Americans while definitively avoiding the negative consequences of a full reclassification," Genachowski wrote.
Genachowski said the plan would merely maintain the status quo, not create any additional powers or broaden the FCC’s authority.