The chairman essentially has three options. He could do nothing and simply ask Congress to pass legislation that gives the FCC authority to enforce net neutrality. (It’s unlikely lawmakers could pass legislation this year or possibly even next year.)
He could say the FCC made a mistake in 2002 when it deregulated Internet pipes and reverse itself, saying it will now apply rules written for traditional phone lines on Internet networks. Phone and cable companies are extremely opposed to this option, since it presents serious uncertainty about which rules will be enforced on Internet providers, like rate regulations and line-sharing provisions.
Finally, Mr. Genachowski could say that the FCC has plenty of authority to enforce net neutrality under its current scheme. The agency would basically need to take another shot at convincing the courts that it’s right. This is likely the easiest option for the FCC chairman, since he’d have the backing of phone and cable company lobbyists who could otherwise make his professional life a bit unpleasant. It would also likely take several years for the courts to rule on another attempt. It’s not clear if Mr. Genachowski will even still be at the agency then.
Everyone should be worried about how this will turn out.