Text | Word97

fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

August 16, 1999

News Media Contacts:
David Fiske (202) 418-0513
Michelle Russo (202) 418-2358

FCC Court Brief Underscores Consumer Benefits from National Internet Policy of Unregulation; Urges Narrow Judicial Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a case involving the authority of local governments to regulate Internet access over cable lines, the Federal Communications Commission today told a federal appeals court that consumers have benefited from the FCC's 30-year policy of Internet "unregulation" and that its policy has successfully spurred deployment of new services. The brief asks the Court to "resolve the dispute presented in a narrow fashion."

FCC Chairman William E. Kennard said, "Internet users want and expect choice, and as the drivers of the market, they will not be satisfied unless they get it. Openness and competition will bring it to them. While we continue to monitor closely this market's dynamics, I believe it is far too early for any government regulator to move in."

In an amicus brief filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the AT&T v. City of Portland case, the Commission said that it is "the agency charged with implementing federal communications policy" and that it is "the only agency with jurisdiction over all the current providers of broadband technology." The brief noted that inconsistent regulation of different providers of broadband technology "could undermine the development of intermodal competition" between cable operators, wireline telephone companies, providers of wireless telecommunications services and satellite communications firms.

The brief referred to policy debates about the proper characterization of Internet access via cable, and whether such access constitutes a cable service, a telecommunications service, or some other service. The brief suggested that both sides to the City of Portland case may have relied on a faulty premise by assuming that Internet access via cable is a "cable service," an issue that the Commission has yet to resolve.

The Commission said, "It would seem to make sense to categorize all Internet access services uniformly, regardless of the facilities used to obtain Internet access."

The Commission referred to its recent Advanced Telecommunications Report where it concluded that "the FCC's regulatory restraint with respect to information services has significantly facilitated the explosive growth of the Internet," that "different companies are using different technologies to bring broadband to residential consumers," and that "multiple methods of increasing bandwidth are or soon will be made available to a broad range of customers." It said that it would closely monitor broadband developments, and take action to reduce any "barriers to competition" that developed in the future.

Kennard emphasized the need for federal-local partnership regarding this issue. "We want to continue to hear from local regulators about their concerns on this issue. We will continue to work with these officials in order to facilitate multiple pipes competing to deliver Internet services into the home."

- FCC -