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Precursor Predicts Brand X Reversal

A prominent Washington research shop predicts the Supreme Court "is 75% likely" to overturn a lower court ruling requiring the FCC to impose telephone-style open access rules on cable modem service.

If the Precursor Group's read is correct, the cable industry would score a big victory. MSOs oppose open access mandates, arguing that competitors should not be able to piggyback on cable franchises' expensive buildouts of broadband architecture. "We believe there is little risk of major government regulatory intervention in the cable broadband services market," the Precursor Group wrote in a report issued Wednesday.

Even if the the Supreme Court doesn’t take the FCC's appeal, the commission will exercise its right forbear regulation, Precursor added.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to take the case this fall.

Internet service providers and consumer advocates have been pushing for open access mandates for more than five years. The FCC has claimed the right, but not the obligation, to impose access mandates.

The commission has decided not to impose the regulatory burden now because delivery of high-speed Internet is a developing business that it says could be damaged if saddled with the obligation.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco ordered the FCC to impose open access last October, but stayed implementation of its ruling until the Supreme Court appeal is resolved.

On Monday, the FCC, Department of Justice and the FCC filed their appeals to the Supreme Court, followed by NCTA.