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The Podium

Friday, July 09

“A Lawyer’s Paradise”

By Bruce Mehlman

PC World talked with some telecom experts about the FCC’s move to regulate the Internet under Title II:

The move to reclassify broadband will create many years of legal uncertainty because of likely challenges to the FCC’s actions, said telecom lawyer Jonathan Nuechterlein, a partner at the Wilmer Hale law firm in Washington, D.C. “What the FCC is proposing to do here is create a lawyer’s paradise,” said Nuechterlein, a former deputy general counsel at the FCC. “They will send my kids to college and their kids to college.”

But Chris Wright, a partner in the Wiltshire and Grannis law firm and former general counsel at the FCC, disagreed. While Genachowski’s plan may not lead to immediate certainty for lawyers and investors, reclassifying broadband may give the FCC clearer legal authority than any attempts to continue to create broadband rules on a case-by-case basis, he said. The FCC, under its current limited authority, would probably “lose a lot” of legal cases when trying to implement its national broadband plan, released in March.

“It’s a lawyer’s paradise either way,” Wright said. “There is uncertainty. There will be considerable uncertainty for a long time.”