U.S. FCC chief says weighing all broadband options

* All options remain – FCC Chairman Genachowski

* Legislative window for support narrowing

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (BestGrowthStock) – The top U.S. communications
regulator has not ruled out moving ahead this year with a
controversial proposal that could place broadband providers
under a stricter set of regulations.

After a court ruling earlier this year threw into doubt the
government’s authority over broadband access, the Federal
Communications Commission is considering ways to reclaim that
authority.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is weighing whether to
make broadband services subject to stricter phone rules, a move
strongly opposed by Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N: ), AT&T Inc
(T.N: ), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: ) and other broadband providers.

But with the possibility of the election of more
congressional Republicans opposed to such a move, Genachowski
is running out time for any legislative support.

“All options remain on the table,” Genachowski told Reuters
on Tuesday on the sidelines of a technology conference, when
asked if plans to reclassify broadband are off the table.

His remarks on Tuesday add to the regulatory uncertainty
facing telecommunications companies, which are also battling
over the thorny issue of net neutrality. In that debate, some
say high-speed Internet providers should be allowed to give
preferential treatment to content providers that pay for faster
transmission while others disagree.

Broadband and Internet companies have been negotiating this
summer to craft a framework for net neutrality, but those talks
have failed to yield a deal because of big differences over the
treatment of wireless broadband, in particular.

At stake is how quickly handheld devices, like Research in
Motion’s (RIM.TO: ) BlackBerry and Apple’s (AAPL.O: ) iPhone, can
receive and download videos and other content.

Last week, rather than impose stricter regulations,
Genachowski put off a decision and called for public comment.
He wants to know how companies and consumers will be affected
if wireless devices are treated differently from home broadband
lines. [ID:nN01134538]

Proponents of net neutrality, including public interest
groups, argue consumers will be harmed if carriers create a
two-tiered Internet, the top tier offering faster speeds at a
premium.

Carriers such as AT&T and Verizon say they need to
prioritize traffic on congested wireless networks and already
do so on handsets to allow people to make and receive phone
calls.
(Reporting by John Poirier; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. FCC chief says weighing all broadband options