FCC Makes Open Internet Rules Official, Sparking Immediate Legal Action

On Monday this week, the FCC published it “Net Neutrality” rules in the Federal Register, making the Open Internet rules official, and by today (Wednesday) the rules were already being challenged in lawsuits pending from trade associations and from AT&T. Pending a reversal in the courts, the rules will go into effect on June 12, 2015.

The trade associations filing petitions against the FCC order include the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) representing companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable; the American Cable Association which represents smaller and medium-sized cable operators; and CTIA representing wireless carriers including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

We predicted this legal battle as a likely outcome in our annual predictions at the end of last year, although this course should hardly come as a surprise to any industry observer.

The NCTA’s petition takes issue with the FCC decision to change the classification of broadband Internet access service. Commenting on the association’s action, Michael Powell, NCTA President & CEO said in a statement that the “appeal is not about net neutrality but the FCC’s unnecessary action to apply outdated utility style regulation to the most innovative network in our history,”

He continued, “The FCC went far beyond the public’s call for sound net neutrality rules. Instead, it took the opportunity to engineer for itself a central role in regulating and directing the evolution of the Internet. We regrettably file this appeal and urge Congress to assert its role in setting national policy, by enacting legislation that fully protects the open Internet, without the harmful impact of public utility regulation.”

Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO of the CTIA said in her blog that the CTIA “seeks to protect the competitive mobile marketplace that thrived under a deregulatory framework for decades. The FCC’s new Internet rules are full service regulations that will harm mobile consumers and providers across the country, as well as our nation's wireless future.”

No doubt, others will follow with more legal action both for and against the FCC rules, and we’ll keep readers posted of significant milestones in the ongoing battle.

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