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Fcc Loses Comcast Challenge

By The Washington Post

April 6, 2010



Comcast on Tuesday won its federal lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission in a ruling that undermines the agency's ability to regulate Internet service providers just as it unrolls a sweeping broadband agenda.

The decision also sparks pressing questions on how the agency will respond, with public interest groups advocating that the FCC attempt to move those services into a regulatory regime clearly under the agency's control.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to require Comcast, the nation's biggest broadband services provider, to treat all Internet traffic equally on its network.

That decision--based on a 2008 ruling under former FCC chairman Kevin Martin-- addresses Comcast's argument that the agency "failed to justify exercising jurisdiction" when it ruled Comcast violated broadband principles by blocking or slowing a peer-sharing Web site, Bit Torrent.

But it also unleashed a broader debate over the agency's ability to regulate broadband service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications.

The judges focused on whether the FCC has legal authority over broadband services, which are categorized separately from phone, cable television and wireless services.

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