FCC Enforcement Bureau: Title II, Wireless Net Regs Definitely On Table

FCC Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc said in no uncertain terms Friday that Title II reclassification of Internet access service and applying new network neutrality rules are still definitely potential outcomes of any new Open Internet order and folks pondering rule enforcement scenarios need to figure them into the equation.

Those pointed observations came from the FCC's latest roundtable discussion on Open Internet rules Friday at commission headquarters, this one on "effective enforcement." LeBlanc was lead moderator.

Sounding every inch the enforcer, LeBlanc laid down the potential law—or in this case, regulation.

Although he reminded the audience that the session was on enforcement issues, not the underlying policy, he still said he wanted to remind the panelists and "and those who are listening near and far" about what he called two central issues before the commission in the Open Internet rulemaking.

"The first of those is whether to reclassify broadband Internet access services as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act, or whether to rely on other sources of legal authority, such as Sec. 706 of the Communications Act."

Hs said that the FCC emphasized in the rulemaking proposal that both Title II and Sec. 706 are viable solutions and that the goal of the proceeding is to find the best approach.

The proposal was to use Sec. 706, but Wheeler has gotten pushback, and has been reminding folks that the proposal was just that, and will be informed by the comment it generated.

"As our discussion proceeds today to keep in mind that these authorities are on the table," and to talk about how enforcement would differ under each scenario. He even gave Title II top billing and Sec. 706 something of a supporting role, at least rhetorically. He said he wanted to highlight the differences "if the commission ultimately decides to rely on title II, or some other legal authority, such as Sec. 706."

The proposal also was not to apply the wired anti-blocking and anti-commercially unreasonable discrimination rules to wireless, but that has gotten pushback as well.

"Please keep in mind that this issue is still on the table," he said.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.