FCC Classifies Wireless Broadband as Information Service

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The FCC Thursday declared that wireless broadband service is free of access requirements just like broadband delivered by cable, telephone, and over power lines.

The decision gives wireless internet access the same deregulatory status as its broadband competition, a status upheld by the Supreme Court in the Brand X decision. It is also a status that prompted the network neutrality debate by those concerned that network providers will use that deregulatory freedom to create online toll booths and gated communities.

The decision was unanimous, but not without critcism from commission Democrats. Commissioner Michael Copps said he was concurring not because he liked the order--or thought it was necessarily the right thing to do--but because the Brand X decision made the outcome inevitable.
Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein agreed with Copps, and said he supported the item to the extent that it was furthering the goal of treating like services in a smiliar fashion, but he criticized the speed with which it was adopted and the lack of public comment.
Both Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed to the importance of clearing up wireless broadband's regulatory status before the FCC auctions spectrum in the fall that will be used for wireless broadband.

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