The battle over net neutrality may be entering its final phase.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski wanted to keep broadband services deregulated. But reports throughout the day suggest that Genachowski intends to side with companies and public interest groups who want to put additional rules on broadband providers.
The basic idea would be to make sure that cable and phone companies don't discriminate or interfere with the Internet traffic flow through their broadband networks. On Thursday, we'll learn more when Genachowski is expected to detail his plans.
Participants in the net neutrality debate have been waiting to see his response to last month's ruling. A federal court concluded that the agency had overstepped its authority in setting rules governing high-speed Internet access. This has since become a high-stakes political struggle. On Wednesday, Congressman Henry Waxman and Senator John Rockefeller urged Genachowski to impose net neutrality regulations. During his run for the presidency in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama identified himself as a strong supporter of net neutrality.
FCC staffers reportedly spent Wednesday briefing the commissioners on their chairman's proposal. Late in the day, the Associated Press reported that the FCC plans to seek a third way between "weak" rules for information services and "needlessly burdensome" rules for telecommunications services. Whether the rumored compromise will satisfy big phone and cable companies is another question. Lobbyists for those industries have strenuously objected to any proposals that would regulate broadband as a traditional telecommunications service.