Feeds

Appeals court rubber stamps FCC's DSL (de)regulation

Hangs up on small ISPs

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

Living in America? If you get your access to the internet through an independent ISP over DSL, your service might become more expensive soon. Or slow. Or disappear entirely.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a ruling last week that approved the FCC's new order eliminating the requirement that large phone companies provide transmission services to independent ISPs at set, nondiscriminatory rates.

Instead, the independent ISPs will have to negotiate new individual contracts with Big Telco to use their pipes. But nothing guarantees that the telecoms will even agree to play ball with the little guys anymore.

Prior to this new order, the FCC required providers of "enhanced services" related to data storage, generation, transmission, etc. to provide competitors access to their wirelines. Access to telecommunications services (e.g., voice and fax) is mandatory under the Communications Act, but access for these enhanced services came through a separate FCC regulation issued back in 1975.

Cable ISPs did not fall under the 1975 rule, according to an FCC interpretation that was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

Access to grind

The new DSL order does two things: First, it declares that broadband Internet services over DSL are "information services" (a term introduced by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but basically analogous to "enhanced services") with no telecommunications component. Thus, the mandatory access provisions of the Communications Act don't apply.

Next, the order eliminates the 1975 rule that required information service providers to give competitors access to their transmission systems. This opens the door for the large telecoms to hike up the rates that smaller ISPs pay to access the telecom's facilities, and it could also allow the telecoms to reject access for small ISPs altogether.

After the FCC issued the order, a number of independent ISPs and trade organizations petitioned the court for a review of the new deregulation.

In reviewing the regulation, the court's hands were largely tied by the legal standard that applies to administrative decisions. The court could only overturn the new order if it found that the FCC had acted in an arbitrary and capricious fashion when drafting it.

This is a highly deferential standard, and courts will usually only reject regulations if they find that an agency performed the equivalent of picking a rule out of a hat. If the agency can justify an order, even if the justification is based on bad policy, then courts will uphold it.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Next page: Overtaken by events

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.