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Consumer Groups Applaud Appeals Court Rebuke of FCC’s Deregulation of High-Speed Internet Services

October 6, 2003
Contact: Mark Cooper, (301) 384-2204
Chris Murray, (202) 462-6262

Consumer Groups Applaud Appeals Court Rebuke of FCC’s Deregulation of High-Speed Internet Services
The FCC Must Require Cable Companies To Operate Their Broadband Networks In a Non-discriminatory Manner

Washington, D.C. – Today’s decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturning the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) misclassification of cable modem service as an “information service” is a giant step toward restoring competition in the Internet Service Provider market. If the FCC accepts the court decision and seeks a flexible approach to ensuring nondiscriminatory access to high-speed Internet networks, American consumers and the economy will be the big winners.
For more than five years, the FCC has refused to require cable system operators to make broadband services available to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory rates, terms and conditions. Denied the ability to compete directly for Internet access service, independent ISPs have been foreclosed from the most lucrative segment of the Internet market. Three quarters of all ISPs have disappeared, while innovation in new Internet applications that use the unique features of the high speed Internet has been chilled.
“It is time for the FCC to accept its responsibility to promote the public interest under the act and remove the stranglehold that cable operators and telephone companies have had on the broadband market,” said Mark Cooper, director of research for Consumer Federation of America.
Chris Murray, Legislative Counsel for Consumers Union stated, “Many consumers hate their cable companies’ privacy policies and their failure to deal with spam effectively. Giving consumers a choice of Internet service providers would open the door to more competition, and let people choose services with better privacy and less spam.”
“Congress has told the FCC to let consumers use their cable system just like their telephone. Just as you can pick up the phone and dial anybody you want, consumers ought to be able to do the same thing with high-speed Internet service. The courts are simply telling the FCC to go back and obey the law,” said Murray.