Factbox: Stakeholders in the U.S. broadband battle

(BestGrowthStock) – The head of U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday said the agency would retain its light touch with Internet regulation, after a court ruling last month threw into doubt its authority over broadband.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, sought to calm fears the agency will heavily regulate broadband services as it reasserts its authority in the area by classifying broadband under a stricter regulatory regime typically used for telephone lines. He pledged to refrain from imposing big regulatory burdens.

Below is a list of the opponents and proponents of the FCC’s approach:

OPPONENTS

* Cable and telephone companies such as Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, and Qwest Communications International Inc are opposed to the FCC decision to reclassify broadband access as a telecommunications services from an informational service. They fear price controls and being forced to share their lines with competing Internet service providers even though Genachowski said broadband providers will not be subject to those requirements.

* Republican FCC commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker said the approach represents a huge regulatory overreach and will likely be thrown out by the courts.

* They said in a joint statement: “This proposal is disappointing and deeply concerns us. It is neither a light-touch approach, nor a third way. Instead, it is a stark departure from the long-established bipartisan framework for addressing broadband regulation that has led to billions in investment and untold consumer opportunities.”

PROPONENTS

* Online content providers lauded the FCC decision, which they believe will allow consumers to decide the flow of Internet traffic instead of the broadband provider. It could also allow the companies to move forward with bandwidth-intensive offerings such as online videos.

* The Open Internet Coalition supports a set of Internet principles called Net Neutrality. Its members include online search engine Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis), Internet movie provider Netflix Inc, online auction site eBay Inc, social media site Facebook and online communications provider Skype.

* The Obama administration has made it a high priority to extend high-speed, affordable broadband access to all Americans. That goal is a main component of the National Broadband Plan unveiled by the FCC earlier this year before a court ruling threw into question the FCC’s authority over the area.

* Democratic FCC Chairman Genachowski and commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn said the approach outlined on Thursday strikes the balance between giving the agency explicit authority over broadband while letting the FCC remain a sideline regulator for the Internet.

Copps said: “This plan can put us on the right road – if we travel that road swiftly, surely and with the primary goal of protecting consumers foremost in our minds. We should welcome this step toward bringing broadband back under the Title II framework where it belongs.”

Clyburn said: “The fact that the chairman has been able to find a way to accomplish this without unnecessary and burdensome regulations on industry means a victory for all parties.”

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(Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Bernard Orr)

Factbox: Stakeholders in the U.S. broadband battle