9th Circuit Throws Out FCC Cable Modem Classification

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned
the FCC decision classifying cable modem offerings as an unregulated
“information service.”  It’s the second straight victory for
consumer groups challenging controversial FCC actions, following the
stay of the new media ownership rules. 

I haven’t yet had time to digest the implications of the court
decision.  It will certainly be appealed, and there is no
guarantee it will be upheld.  If nothing else, this adds further
uncertainty to the legal environment surrounding broadband.  Wall
Street has made it quite clear that regulatory stability and
predictability, more than anything else, are the essential precursors
for further investment in telecom.  And legal uncertainty can only
delay cable operators deploying voice over IP in a big way. 

That doesn’t mean the court decision was wrong.  I’m just worried
that we’re in for more years of confusion and regulatory gamesmanship
rather than real investment and market competition for broadband.