O’Connor Grants Cable-Modem Case Extension


Washington -- Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has granted the Justice Department a one-month extension to decide whether to appeal a case that could require cable operators to open their high-speed data networks to competing Internet-service providers.

U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson sought the extension on June 16, and O’Connor granted it the same day, according to Supreme Court records.
Olson had until June 29 to appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling in Brand X Internet Services v. the Federal Communications Commission. The Supreme Court’s docket did not provide a reason for the extension request or O’Connor’s grant.
The cable industry is watching the case closely. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is planning a Supreme Court appeal, with or without Justice Department support.
The Brand X case is important because a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel held that cable-modem service is partly a telecommunications service under federal law. That classification could require cable operators to share their high-speed facilities with their competitors at regulate rates, something the industry has fought since 1998.
The 9th Circuit decision overturned an FCC ruling in March 2002 that cable modem service was purely an interstate information service beyond the scope of state and local regulation.