Courts

Verizon: D.C. Court Must Hear Net Neutrality Challenge

1/31/2011 2:22 PM Eastern

Verizon has told a federal court in Washington that no matter who files suit against the Federal Communications Commission's recently codified network neutrality rules and whatever circuit the suits wind up being consolidated in, its challenge to them as a license modification must be heard separately and by the D.C. circuit alone.

That is the court that held that the FCC had not justified its Internet regulatory authority in smacking down Comcast for blocking BitTorrent files, and Verizon has suggested the commission's new net neutrality regs should meet the same fate.

In its motion to deny the FCC's motion to dismiss the suit, Verizon told the court that the court still needed to weigh in by Feb. 3 on Verizon's request that the court assign the same panel of judges to Verizon's case that ruled in the FCC-BitTorrent decision, citing their expertise in the issue.

The FCC asked the court to reject that request, and the overall challenge as premature on procedural grounds.

In its filing with the court Monday, Verizon said its filing was not premature, but that it had signaled that "out of an abundance of caution," it would also file after the rules are published in the Federal Register. The FCC had argued that such publication triggers the filing window, while Verizon said it was triggered by the FCC's release of the order in late December.

The rules have yet to be published in the Federal Register, though that is expected to happen within the next week or so.

"We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself," Verizon said last week in filing the suit. "We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress, and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers."

Verizon was not among the ISPs that signed off on the FCC's compromise rules. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Comcast and others said they could live with the rules--as preferable to Title II reclassification of network access service--though they also said they thought they were unnecessary.