Major U.S. broadband providers have taken their battle against Net neutrality to court. On the heels of new rules by the FCC announced earlier this month, the trade group the USTelecom Association, which represents AT&T, Verizon and a number of the country’s largest ISPs, brought the industry’s beef with the new regulations to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
CNET reports that the complaint, filed Monday, “claims the FCC’s action is a violation of federal law and was ‘arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.’ Texas-based ISP Alamo Broadband made similar arguments against the FCC’s action Monday in a federal appeals court in New Orleans. The lawsuits represent the first legal challenges to the new rules in what is expected to be a lengthy court fight.”
In a statement, USTelecom President Walter McCormick said: “As we have said throughout this debate, our member companies conduct their business in conformance with the open Internet principles, and support their enactment into law. We do not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation invoking Title II authority is legally sustainable.”
CNET notes: “The new rules — approved by a 3-2 vote last month — adopted Net neutrality regulations based on a new definition of broadband that lets the government regulate Internet infrastructure as a public utility. The rules prohibit broadband providers from blocking or slowing down traffic on wired and wireless networks. They also ban Internet service providers from offering paid priority services that could allow them to charge content companies, such as Netflix, fees to access Internet ‘fast lanes’ to reach customers more quickly when networks are congested.”
Under the new regulations, the FCC reclassifies broadband as a Title II telecom service, covered by the 1934 Communications Act, the report notes.
“Applying the Title II moniker to broadband has the potential to radically change how the Internet is governed, giving the FCC unprecedented authority,” CNET reports. “The provision originally gave the agency the power to set rates and enforce the ‘common carrier’ principle, or the idea that every customer gets equal access to the network. Now this idea will be applied to broadband networks to prevent Internet service providers from favoring one bit of data over another.”
A spokesperson for the FCC said of Monday’s filings that the petitions are “premature and subject to dismissal.”