The first two challenges to the Federal Communications Commission's historic Open Internet Order were filed Monday by the broadband trade group United States Telecom Association and a small Texas-based Internet service provider, and it's likely more will follow. The petitions for review, filed in the New Orleans and District of Columbia U.S. Courts of Appeal, say the FCC's March 12 declaration on Net neutrality was "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion."
The petition by the industry group, which includes AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, as well as the petition by Alamo Broadband, ask the court to vacate the FCC's order and "provide such additional relief as may be appropriate."
The FCC order was issued following a 3-2 vote in February in favor of "clear, bright-line rules" for an Open Internet. Those rules would prevent blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of content delivery by Internet service providers. They also say that ISPs cannot take actions that would result in "unreasonable interference or unreasonable disadvantage to consumers or edge providers."
'An Abundance of Caution'
In a statement issued Monday, USTelecom Senior Vice President Jon Banks said: "The focus of our legal appeal will be on the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as a public utility service after a decade of amazing innovation and investment under the FCC's previous light-touch approach. 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."
The filings by both USTelecom and Alamo Broadband, headquartered in Elmendorf, Texas, note that the petitions for review were filed within 10 days of the FCC's Open Internet Order "out of an abundance of caution" to ensure the courts would hear their cases. Typically, the 10-day period to file a petition for review begins after an order is published in the Federal Register.
In a "fact vs. fiction" document published alongside its Open Internet Order, the FCC stressed that its decision did not involve any " 'utility-style' regulation."
"The Order bars the kinds of tariffing, rate regulation, unbundling requirements and administrative burdens that are the hallmarks of traditional utility regulation," the FCC said. "No broadband provider will need to get the FCC's approval before offering any price, product or plan."
Internet 'Has Changed the Rules'
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, a pro-Net Neutrality organization, told us Tuesday that he had not yet had a chance to review either petition. However, he added that he was optimistic the FCC's Open Internet decision would eventually prevail, whether or not it would ultimately be decided by the courts.
"This is going to be an ongoing battle," Greer said. "The Internet public won't accept anything less than full Net neutrality."
The public support expressed ahead of the FCC's Order -- which included more than 4 million comments submitted to the commission's Web site -- demonstrates that "the Internet has really changed the rules," Greer said.
Posted: 2015-03-24 @ 1:29pm PT
It will be interesting for the court to evaluate this set of suits when it is determined that the vast amount of traditional telephone traffic has been transitioned to Internet protocol (IP) packet transport within the carriers networks. Separating traditional voice transport from Internet, video, and other media types in an IP network under different sets of rules will be untenable. Let net neutrality stand.