In a debate that will shape the future of high-speed Internet service, the Supreme Court will hear arguments today to determine whether cable companies must open their networks to competitors.
The court could decide, in effect, how companies can compete to deliver high-speed Internet access to a rapidly growing market and how much choice consumers will have. The case pits the Federal Communications Commission and National Cable & Telecommunications Association, representing cable companies including Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc., against Internet service providers such as EarthLink Inc. and consumer groups.
At stake are billions of dollars expected from the emerging new markets such as Internet-based phone service and digital entertainment that high-speed service -- or broadband -- makes possible.
"What I think that this case will decide is just who's going to get the money," said Eric Easton, a telecommunications expert and associate professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
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