Genachowski might need to win Title II proponent Copps to pass net-neutrality rules

On the one hand, Genachowski could try to win over one or both Republican colleagues with a softly worded compromise proposal.

Or, he can try to win over staunch net-neutrality supporter Michael Copps, a Democratic commissioner who has called for regulating broadband service under Title II of the Communications Act, which industry sees as "the nuclear option."

Proposals that would satisfy these two flanks would likely look very different, according to analysts.

Copps has repeatedly called for the commission to regulate Internet lines under Title II. He was unimpressed by a net-neutrality framework floated by Google and Verizon over the summer because it did not include tough rules for wireless providers. If Genachowski wants to win Copps' vote, analysts said on Monday, he will likely need some heft in the wireless component of his plan. 


Analysts also said Copps might want reassurance that the proposal is legally sound and protected from rejection by the courts. He could hypothetically ask for a way to trigger Title II rules if the courts shoot down an FCC effort under the less onerous Title I, according to analysts.

Meanwhile, Republican Commissioners Meredith Baker and Robert McDowell have been steadfast that net-neutrality rules are not necessary. It's unclear they would be willing to sign onto any kind of new regulations for broadband service.

McDowell has long been skeptical that network management can be regulated under Title I.

"Those who may think that the Commission will escape another appellate rebuke merely by labeling a new Title I order as 'interim' should reevaluate their strategy," he said in comments published in Communications Daily on Monday. 

If that door is closed, that could leave the commission trying to woo Copps with net-neutrality language that he sees as sufficiently strong.

It's unclear if Genachowski has decided to push ahead on net neutrality in December. The agency has not confirmed or denied this, but meetings with stakeholders this week suggests Genachowski is gauging whether he can win support for a proposal.