Supreme Court Hands Victory to Big Cable Companies
A victory went to big cable companies today as the Supreme Court overturned a ruling by a U.S. appeals court, which said that cable Internet lines had to be shared with rival ISPs.
The Surpeme Court’s ruling was in favor of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision from 2002, which placed broadband Internet outside of the telecommunications category and into the information services category.
This means that cable companies are not subject to access requirements like phone companies who are required to share their lines with competing companies.
The FCC’s ruling had been overturned by the U.S. appeals court, but justices of the Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 to overturn it again. CNN Money writes:
On the losing side are small Internet service providers, including Earthlink, consumer rights groups, and a host of local governments.
At issue in the case, FCC v. Brand X, was whether cable operators should be required under federal law to lease their cable lines to competitors, much the way local phone companies were forced years ago to open up their lines to long-distance phone companies.
The larger cable companies like Time Warner, Cox Communications, and Charter Communications are the companies that will benefit from the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Aspects of the ISP industry that are at stake include smaller companies’ ability to compete, the speed at which broadband service is able to become available, and the price at which it will be offered.
DSL offered by phone companies is still considered to be a telecommunications service, and is not subject to the new ruling. Phone companies are still required to share lines with other providers.
Cable companies are now likely to dominate the entire market. Much of the public is outraged by the ruling, and thinks that they should be able to choose their own ISP.