FCC top lawyer suggests agency not gutted by Comcast case

This prospect led the FCC to float what industry saw as a "nuclear option:" a proposal to place Internet access providers under telephone rules as a way to make the FCC as powerful as it was before the court decision.

But in his comments over the weekend, Schlick appeared to suggest that the court decision did not entirely gut FCC authority.

"The Comcast [appeals court] case is fascinating in this junction between its headline value and its legal value," he said. "Its headline value is 'is the FCC regulating the Internet?' The actual decision said nothing at all about the FCC's power with respect to Internet access service at Comcast or any other Internet service."

The comments are notable because they come as the FCC may be poised to make net-neutrality rules without taking using the "nuclear option" of reclassification to shore up its legal authority first.

Telecom reform groups and industry have spent the last year sparring on whether the court decision left the FCC with any meaningful power.

In his speech, Schlick also broaches forbearance powers and the commission's authority to act in the public interest.

The video is low-quality, but many of his remarks are discernible. He begins speaking at the 22:37 mark.