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NCTA Backs Home Schooling

3/11/2010 8:07 AM Eastern

Washington — Th e National Cable & Telecommunications
Association is promoting home schooling in an
eff ort to head off suggestions that cable-modem service
might need to be more heavily regulated to fit into the
government’s plans for universal broadband funding.

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission
chairman Julius Genachowski, the cable-industry trade
group said the FCC does not need to classify Internet access
as a telecommunications service to justify supporting
it through the existing Universal Service Fund.

Th e FCC has said it wants to expand the fund, which
supports residential telephone service to hard-to-reach
areas and broadband for schools, to include residential
broadband subsidies.

Some have argued that to bring it into the Universal
Service Fund, the FCC might need to reclassify broadband
as a telecommunications service — with mandatory
access provisions — from a more lightly regulated
information service. Moreover, Comcast is challenging
the FCC’s authority in rebuking the operator for how it
had managed traffic from the peer-to-peer file-sharing
service BitTorrent.

Te NCTA, though, said USF support of broadband to
schools is an educational mandate that could be expanded
to homes. “It is entirely reasonable to read the statutory
directive to support Internet access for classrooms
to include support
for residential broadband
service to households
where it is
reasonably likely
that such service
would be used for
educational purposes,”
the association
said.

The NCTA said
the FCC has sufficient authority to
expand the definition
of classroom
to the homes of
kids.

Art Brodsky,
a spokesman for
Public Knowledge,
a group that argued the FCC might need to invoke
regulations under Title II of the federal No Child Left Behind
law, said the NCTA is trying to have it both ways.
“What they are saying is, ‘Hey, the FCC has the authority
to be your cash machine, but they don’t have any regulatory
authority.’ ”

He also said cable operators instigated the debate
with Comcast’s challenge of the FCC’s BitTorrent
order.
Genachowski has repeatedly said he thinks the FCC
has the authority to regulate the Internet, but has not said
where that authority comes from. He again declined to
elaborate on the regulatory philosophy in an interview
with The Washington Post last week.

September