Why is MCI siding with the ISPs in Brand X
April 7, 2005 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know why MCI would be in favor of regulating cable modems in the Brand X case recently before the Supreme Court? I can't think of a compelling technical or business reason why they'd do that.

The case involves whether to classify cable modem service as a telecommunications service or not. This is important because, if it is classified as a telecom service, the cable companies are subject to common carrier requirements, including payment of universal service fees and allowing others (i.e., ISPs like EarthLink) to use the cable lines.

DSL companies are siding with the cable companies, because they figure if cable modems get deregulated, DSL will too. I would have thought (even before MCI's sale to a local teleco) that MCI would also be in favor of deregulation, but they actually wrote a brief in support of the ISPs. Why would they do that? The only thing I can think of is that they want to make sure cable companies pay their fair share of universal service fees, but their brief doesn't mention the fees at all. Can anyone think of a better reason? Thanks.
posted by EatenByAGrue to Law & Government (4 answers total)
[Cyncic] MCI is going to be a subsidiary of Qwest or Verizon (each a local telco) by the end of the year. Lawyers and regulatory affairs people are the first to be fired after a merger -- sure doesn't hurt to be showing that you're smart on the right side early. [/Cynic]
posted by MattD at 9:55 AM on April 7, 2005

Response by poster: MattD, I don't think that explains it in this case. First, to the best of my knowledge, they wrote the brief prior to merger talks. Second, they are actual arguing in favor of more regulation, but this is contrary to the position of both the local telecos as well as the FCC itself. I would think if they're interested in keeping a job, they'd side with the local telecos, not against them. (Not to mention that the decision to intervene is probably not left to the lawyers.)
posted by EatenByAGrue at 10:13 AM on April 7, 2005

Isn't MCI more of a backbone-operating bandwidth company, rather than a DSL company? If so, then MCI just wants as much traffic on its lines as possible, and if it thinks the lack of regulation of cable is hurting that goal then it will push for regulation.
posted by profwhat at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2005

MCI owns UUNET who ship more net traffic than anyone else across their backbone. This probably gels with profwhat's comment.
posted by bystander at 2:17 AM on April 13, 2005

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