US Internet service providers (ISP) recently filed a series of lawsuits in an effort to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality which are mainly designed to provide a safe environment for fair competition in a more “open Internet.”
So, on Monday, the US Telecom Association, a premier trade association which defends the interests of big telecom companies and ISPs, filed a lawsuit with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia complaining that the FCC’s new internet rules were violating the federal law, “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”
A similar complaint was filed on Monday by Alamo Broadband, a broadband provider based in Texas, with a New Orleans federal appeals court.
According to the new rules, which were approved by the FCC by a 3-2 vote February 26, the government is able to regulate broadband service as a public utility, while the Internet service is reclassified from a service of information to telecommunications.
Net neutrality rules also prevent ISPs from discretionary throttling internet traffic as a way to pressure content providers into paying additional fees, or block internet traffic on cable-based or wireless networks.
They also make it illegal for Internet service providers to offer premium paid services to content providers such as Netflix and YouTube for access to faster Internet lanes or priority to reach customers when networks are affected by congestions.
By reclassifying broadband service as a public utility, the new rules classify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the 1934’s Communications Act, which was adopted to regulate telephone services.
However, this aspect of the net neutrality rules have been heavily contested by broadband providers mainly for being outdated and trying to regulate a service that had nothing to do with a pre-WWII telephone service.
President Walter McCormick of the US Telecom said Monday that telecom companies would conduct their business according with the new net neutrality rules, but they did not believe that reclassifying the broadband service as a public utility service under Title II was “legally sustainable”.
Although the FCC announced that the companies had 60 days at their disposal to legally challenge the new rules after the rules would be made public in the Federal Register (which is expected to happen this week), US Telecom Assn. was cautious. The organization filed a five-page complaint for review Monday because it feared that the publication of the new rules on March 12 might have triggered a 10-day window for legal challenges.
The FCC deemed the recent petitions “premature and subject to dismissal.”
ISPs criticize the FCC’s decision of reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act since such move may change radically the way Internet is regulated and may provide the FCC with extended authority allowing it to set rates or fine ISPs.
In 2010, Verizon successfully overturned the FCC’s Open Internet rules, but couldn’t challenge the commission’s authority to regulate Internet service. This week, AT&T announced that it would also file a lawsuit once the rules are published in the Federal Register.