Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project

Cable Broadband Internet

Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
- Broadband
- Sec. 706
- Stimulus Plan
- Natl BB Map
- FCC Natl BB Plan
- Dial Up
- - Naked DSL
- - Net over Wireline (Info Service)
- - UNE
- Cable
- - Open Access
- Fiber
- Wireless
- - 3G
- - Wifi
- - WiMax
- - 700 Mhz
- Powerline
- Satellite
- Muni Broadband
- Telecom Services
- Computer Inquiries
- Network Neutrality
- Consumer Protection
- Forbearance
- Backbones
- Layers
- Interconnection
- - Negotiation
- Reciprocal Comp
- Mergers
- Federal Advisory Committees
- Universal Service
- Statistics: Broadband

"The same cable network that currently provides television service to consumers is being modified to provide broadband access. Because cable networks are shared by users, access speeds can decrease during peak usage hours, when bandwidth is being shared by many customers at the same time. Network sharing has also led to security concerns and fears that hackers might be able to eavesdrop on a neighbor’s Internet connection. The cable industry is developing “next generation” technology which will significantly extend downloading and uploading speeds". - Broadband Internet Regulation and Access: Background and Issues, CRS p. 5 Jan. 26, 2006 OpenCRS ; Broadband Internet Regulation and Access: Backbround Issues, CRS Report for Congress, Nov. 21, 2008 (copy acquired through wikileaks)

The FCC has concluded that Internet over cable broadband is an unregulated "Information service."

Broadband Plan Recommendations

Exhibit 3-E: Announced Upgrades to the US Fixed Broadband Network (Millions of Households Covered) Natl BB Plan p 20

Regulatory Proceedings

Internet Ventures Petition

Gulf Power v. FCC

In construing the pole attachment provision of the Communications Act, 47 USC § 224, the 11th Circuit concluded that Internet access provided through a cable system contains neither a cable service nor a telecom service.

In April 2000 the 11th Cir. Court of Appeals  vacated the FCC's Pole Attachment Order.  The item at issue in this order is whether the FCC has jurisdiction over facilities (wires) attached to telephone poles.  The Court recognized that the FCC had jurisdiction over telecommunications and cable facilities, but that the Communications Act gave the FCC no clear authority attached to poles which is used for Internet access.  This again raises the issue of whether cable that is used for Internet access is considered cable, telecom, or something other (this is at issue in the open access controversy).  It also raises the question of what about the facility defines its regulatory status - is it the transport layer, the TCP/IP layer, or the communications as a whole.  Is cable considered cable regardless of use, or does the fact that TCP/IP is transmitted on top transform cable into something other - and how can that be rationally explained?  Previously different facilities fit neatly within different boxes - cable, telecom, wireless, satellite, broadcast.  But as these facilities become fungible - as different facilities supply similar or the same services - the old boxes and the different regulations that applied become more difficult to work with.  This proceeding, therefore, questions the continued viability of the enhanced versus basis service provider distinction and where Internet communications fits within communications regulatory schemes.



"Cable Labs DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) provides the basis for the development of standardized equipment that enables the offering of new or improved services over the cable network. DOCSIS 1.0 defined standardized ways of communicating high-speed Internet traffic over the channels of the cable network. DOCSIS 1.1 offered the ability to define various tiers of service or levels of quality that could be offered to different kinds of customers. DOCSIS 2.0 specification should enable increased “upstream” throughput, making possible symmetric data services." - Vermont Telecommunications Plan, Sept 2004 P. 1-19

Cable Standard Downstream Upstream Equipment Status
DOCSIS 1.0 38.8 mbps

5MBits/sec per 6MHz channel
9 mbps

DOCSIS 1.1   10Mbits/sec per 6 MHz channel 2001
DOCSIS 2.0 38.8 mbps 30 MBits / sec per 6MHz channel 2003
DOCSIS 3.0 160 mbps 30 Mbps / 50 Mbps 2009
DOCSIS 3.1     Developing

Source:  Network Magazine, p. 16 November 2001; various

  Companies 2009 2010 2011
  • Comcast
  • Cablevision
  • Cox
  • Knology
  • Time Warner
  • Charter
  • Mediacom
  • RCN
  • Comcast (40 million)
  • Charter (St. Louis)
  • Mediacom
    (50% of footprint)
  • Knology (50% of footprint)
  • RCN (begin deployment)
  • Comcast (50 million)
  • Cablevision
    (entire footprint)
  • Cox (entire footprint)
  • Time Warner
    (New York City)
  • Knology
    (entire footprint)


Press Releases and Statements

Open Access Trials

AT&T Bolder

AT&T Massachusets

  • Massachusetts Coalition for Consumers Choice and Competition on the Internet and AT&T Agree on Plan for Consumer Choice of ISPs in Massachusetts, AT&T Press Release (June 27, 2000)
  • Peter Howe, Net Service Providers Applaud AT&T Agreement, The Boston Globe, June 29, 2000, D1

COX Field Trial El Dorado


State & Foreign Activities

California :: Colorado :: Florida :: Maryland :: Massachusetts :: Oregon (with the early AT&T v Portland):: Pennsylvania :: Texas :: Virginia :: Washington :: Canada



News & Blogs

see also Broadband News | Industry News