Power Companies Get Broadband Boost


The FCC Friday continued its reclassification of broadband access as an "information service" subject to less strict access regulations than telecommunications services like phone service.

It has extended that "information service" definition to broadband supplied over power lines, which the FCC has been promoting as new competition in the broadband access space and as a way to speed that access to rural and urban unserved or undeserved areas.

The reclassification means that power companies will not be required to open their lines to independent Internet service providers.

The FCC first changed the definition for cable broadband access and then last fall did the same to the telephone companies Internet access business to level the playing field. It was those combined moves that stirred up the hornet's nest of "network neutrality."

The FCC said Friday it was essentially leveling the field again. "The order places BPL-enabled Internet access service on an equal regulatory footing with other broadband services, such as cable modem service and DSL Internet access service," the FCC said.

The FCC has adopted guidelines on open access to internet sites and services and warned that abusers will be punished, but computer companies and anti-media consolidation activists want the FCC to write specific rules preventing price and content discrimination by networks.