FCC Ready to Vote on Cable Internet


After waiting since September 2000, the cable industry is expected to learn
next Thursday how federal regulators intend to classify cable-modem service.

At its March 14 meeting, the Federal Communications Commission is widely
expected to classify cable-modem service as an information service, and not as a
cable service.

The agency is also planning to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that is
expected to establish the specific regulations that would apply to cable-modem
service when classified as an information service.

It was not clear whether the FCC would decide next Thursday or in the NPRM
whether cable operators are required to carry unaffiliated Internet-service
providers. Chairman Michael Powell has stated often that he does not favor
forced carriage requirements.

The NPRM is expected to trigger a new round of debate between cable operators
and local governments over whether franchising requirements and franchise fees
apply to cable operators that provide information services.