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
- 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.

  • Gulf Power S.Ct. Decision, Findlaw 1/17/02
  • Gulf Power Co. v. FCC, 208 F.3d 1263 (11th Cir. 2000), Motion to Stay Granted (Oct 12, 2000), reh'g and suggestion for reh'g en banc denied, 226 F.3d 1220 (11th Cir. 2000), cert. granted sub nom., National Cable Television Ass'n v. Gulf Power Co., 121 S.Ct. 879 (2001) (vacating FCC's Pole Attachment Rules) 
  • Oct 2, 2001 Oral Argument S.Ct.
  • Petition for Cert has been granted by the Supreme Court.  See Court Order List Page 4 
  • Other Pole Attachment Case Law
  • Southern Co. v. FCC, 293 F.3d 1338 (11th Cir. 2002)
  • Alabama Power Co. v. FCC, 311 F.3d 1357 (11th Cir. 2002)
  • Southern Co. Services, Inc. v. FCC, 313 F.3d 574 (D.C. Cir. 2002)
  • Supreme Court Rules FCC Can Set Pole Rates, Newsbytes 1/17/02
  • High court settles Internet dispute, MSNBC 1/17/02
  • Supreme Court Ruling May Speed Broadband Rollout, Newsfactor 1/17/02
  • Supreme Court Ruling a Boon for Cable Firms, Wash Tech 1/17/02
  • Cable industry wins Supreme Court victory over price of high-speed Internet lines, Nando 1/17/02
  • Supreme Court Slams Door on Excessive Utility Fees, Internet News 1/17/02
  • Court rules in favor of Web providers, CNET 1/17/02
  • Keller and Heckman Slides on Court Decision Arpil 24, 2002
  • Law


    "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
    DOCSIS 3.0
  • 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

    FCC: Hands off the high-speed Net C|NET 10/15

  • Chairman Kennard Shares Goal of Local Governments to Achieve Open Broadband Access: Continues to Believe that Vigilant Restraint is the Right Way to Get There. 8/11/99
  • "The Unregulation of the Internet: Laying a Competitive Course for the Future" Remarks by Chairman Kennard Before the Federal Communications Bar, Northern California Chapter, San Francisco. 7/20/99
  • Internet Prospers with "Hands-off Unregulation" FCC Paper Rejects Need for Precipitous Action. 7/19/99
  • Working Paper No. 31: "The FCC and the Unregulation of the Internet" by Jason Oxman, Counsel for Advanced Communications, Office of Plans and Policy. [ Text | Word97 | Acrobat ] 7/19/99
  • Chairman Kennard Calls on Cable Franchising Authorities to Promote National Broadband Policy; Vows Continued Consumer Protection. [ News Release | Chairman Kennard's Remarks ] 6/15/99
  • GTE Demonstrates Ease Of Cable Open Access to Multiple ISPs; Clearwater Trial Shows One-Time Investment of Less Than $1 Per Home Would Provide Consumer Choice. June 14, 1999
  • NCTA Press Release:  Statement of NCTA President Decker Anstrom Regarding Formation of the AOL Coalition 2/3/99
  • OpenNet Members' Letter to the FCC 1/20/99
  • Statement of NCTA President Decker Anstrom Regarding Today's FCC Action on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. 1/28/99
  • No GateKeepers.Org Letter to Chairman Kennard.  1/27/99 (signed by CME, CPSR, MAP, CPT, CFA, Consumers Union).
  • Rep. Markey letter to the FCC (January 21, 1999)
  • Internet Over Cable: Defining the Future In Terms of the Past, FCC Staff Working Paper on Regulatory Categories and the Internet (OPP Working Paper No. 30). [WordPerfect | Acrobat | News Release] 9/3/1998
  • 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



  • The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World - Larry Lessig
  • Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace- Larry Lessig
  • Broadband Cable TV Access Networks: From Technologies to Applications by Shlomo Ovadia, Bernard Goodwin (Editor)
  • Breaking the Access Barrier: Delivering Internet Connections over Cable by Mark Laubach
  • News & Blogs

    see also Broadband News | Industry News
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