At its meeting yesterday the FCC voted on party lines to proceed with the discussion of the 'third way' of enforcing network neutrality that was proposed last month by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. As is so often the case with the FCC, nothing has actually happened other than an agreement to hold more discussions about possibly doing something someday. Anyone who was surprised by this step just wasn't paying attention, and in fact both supporting and opposing forces surely had their statements written in advance.
In the 'doing this will cause armageddon' camp:
Verizon: "Reclassifying high-speed broadband Internet service as a telecom service is a terrible idea. The negative consequences for online users and the Internet ecosystem would be severe and have ramifications for decades. It is difficult to understand why the FCC continues to consider this option. Rather than attempting to make the new world of broadband fit into the regulatory scheme of the old telephone world, the FCC should acknowledge that this is an issue Congress should address."
AT&T: "Today’s decision by the FCC is troubling and, in many respects, unsettling. It will create investment uncertainty at a time when certainty is most needed. It will no doubt damage jobs in a period of far-too-high unemployment. It will also undermine the FCC’s own goals for the National Broadband Plan. A better and more proper approach is for the FCC to defer the question of its legal authority to the US Congress."
And in the 'not doing this will cause armageddon' camp:
Google: "This morning the FCC asked for public comment on its proposed “third way” a light-touch approach that would restore legal clarity after the recent Comcast decision. As we have said before, broadband infrastructure is too important to be left outside of any oversight."
Dish: "We strongly support Chairman Genachowski’s leadership in moving this critical process forward. A sound legal framework is absolutely necessary to preserve a free and open Internet and encourage innovation and investment."
If all that sounded rather familiar, get ready to listen to variants on it for months and months. The end is apparently nigh, whether Julius wins the day or not. However, perhaps we should look at this whole thing as a lobbyist and lawyer employment act - helping to ease the pain of the recession donchyaknow.