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Consumer Confidential: Broadband rules, financial reform, airline food

March 15, 2010 | 10:30 am

Here's your meaningfully Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Federal regulators are getting set to unveil their sweeping plan to bring broadband Internet access to the masses. The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to deliver its blueprint to Congress on Tuesday. But there's already squabbling over some of the proposals, including a plan to snatch back some of the airwaves from TV broadcasters and give them instead to companies that offer wireless Net access. The stakes are very high, and this is something we'll need to watch unfold.

--Speaking of federal reforms, Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is set to unwrap his plan to overhaul financial regulation, including new powers for the Federal Reserve to police consumer loans. This is better than nothing -- goodness knows consumers need all the help they can get -- but it's well short of the independent consumer-watchdog agency that President Obama had called for. The banks fought aggressively to keep that from becoming a reality. Tells you all you really need to know about the issue.

--Another day, another indignity served up by the airlines. Continental Airlines says it will end the practice of offering free burgers and sandwiches for hungry passengers on long flights. Instead, it will follow other carriers in charging for everything. Continental expects to pocket as much as $35 million in savings and revenue from the move. And of course it will win the respect and admiration of its customers. Not.

-- David Lazarus