US FCC faces lawsuits against proposed net neutrality order

25 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

First Court Challenges Filed Against FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules.

U.S. broadband industry trade body USTelecom and Internet provider Alamo Broadband filed Monday lawsuits against a controversial U.S. The FCC’s net neutrality rules passed on a narrow 3-2 vote last month, but supporters and opponents were unanimous in their prediction of what was likely to happen next: a court challenge.

The first two legal actions against the FCC’s Open Internet plan were filed Monday by a telecommunications association and a Texas broadband service. Federal Communications Commission proposal to reclassify broadband providers, which could be the harbinger of similar lawsuits from Internet companies. The US Telecom Association, which represents a number of large broadband providers, filed a suit in the appeals court, fifth circuit, in Washington, D.C.

Alamo Broadband, based in San Antonio, Texas, reportedly filed its suit in New Orleans. “As we have said throughout this debate,” said USTelecom president Walter McCormick in a statement, “our member companies conduct their business in conformance with the open Internet principles, and support their enactment into law. Telecom Association filed a brief petition with a federal appeals court in Washington to overturn agency rules approved in late February and issued earlier this month.

USTelecom, representing major Internet providers, contends that the FCC’s action was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion,” and that it violated federal law. The new rules aim to regulate both wireless and wireline Internet services on the lines of traditional telephone companies, which are required to deliver service at “just and reasonable” rates and interconnect with each other. As our industry has said many times, we do not block or throttle traffic and FCC rules prohibiting blocking or throttling will not be the focus of our appeal.” USTelecom said it filed a “protective petition for review” with the U.S. Industry groups representing telecom companies are expected to challenge the rules, although the rush of lawsuits likely won’t come until after the rules are published in the Federal Register. In a move to establish legal footing to impose the rules, the FCC reclassified the Internet as a Title II telecommunications service, a move that drew an outcry from major cable and telecom firms.

These two are the first of an expected slew of legal challenges to the controversial FCC decision passed by a three to two vote (along party lines) Feb. 26. But USTelecom (United States Telecom Association) said it was filing the review petition “out of an abundance of caution” to meet the 10-day period provided for an appeal, just in case the FCC order or its declaratory ruling part is treated as final after its release on March 12, the organization said in a filing Monday to the U.S.

It called the petitions “premature and subject to dismissal.” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has made it clear he expected legal challenges and has said the FCC will vigorously defend its decision to regulate broadband services using Title II and other regulations. “This is only the opening salvo in what could be a decade of litigation,” said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, a group that has opposed the FCC’s actions. “Lawsuits were inevitable from the moment Chairman Wheeler moved toward heavy-handed regulation of the Internet under Title II. Alamo Broadband made a similar statement, saying that wording in the FCC’s order created “some ambiguity” around the timeline for lawsuits challenging the rules. But for many consumers, it means delays in investment and broadband upgrades.” Separately, the state of Tennessee also sued the FCC over its decision at the same Feb. 26 meeting to overrule state law and allow one city to run a municipal Internet service.

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