FCC commissioner says a major fight over net neutrality is not far off

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps on Thursday stressed the debate over whether the government should regulate broadband providers will not be "solved without a fight."

Copps, one of the committee's members who supports net neutrality, said in an interview with Bill Moyers to air Friday that the dispute between the FCC and broadband providers over the commission's powers contains populist undertones.

He suggested the FCC would thus have no choice but to push the issue aggressively, especially because it was in the "public interest" for the commission to implement net neutrality.

"This is a tough question for America right now," Copps said. "Here you've got this dynamic technology that thrives on openness, that thrives on innovation... and you don't want to regulate or artificially limit it."

"But at the end of the day, if that's where everything is moving, if that's where our national dialogue, if that's where our civic dialogue is moving, there is a public interest component to that," he added.

Much of the FCC's newly released National Broadband Plan remains mired in uncertainty, following a federal court decision that essentially stripped the commission of its powers to regulate broadband providers.

Three options, however, remain: The FCC could reclassify broadband so that it falls under their congressional mandate, they could ask lawmakers for a fix or they could simply choose to accept the court's call.

That latter option is unlikely, seeing as Copps and the commission's two other Democrats have hinted in the weeks after the court decision that they would fight it. But the first two routes could nonetheless pit the FCC against telecommunications companies, some of which have signaled they will fight net neutrality regulations in court.

Copps, though, seemed to suggest on Thursday that his agency would be wrong to back down against those political or legal threats.

"I think at the end of the day, you have to come to that conclusion: we have a public interest in how this is used to inform and serve the American people."