Verizon Challenges FCC Net Neutrality Rules In U.S. Court Of Appeals

1/20/2011 4:16 PM Eastern

Verizon has challenged the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality rules in federal appeals court.

The suit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which was the same one that called the FCC's internet access oversight authority into question in throwing out the FCC's ruling that Comcast had impermissibly blocked BitTorrent file uploads.

The FCC voted on a 3-2 partyline vote to expand and codify its network neutrality rules on Dec. 21 with support, or at least a lack of overt opposition, from many industry players.

But Verizon signaled at the time it was not happy with the compromise proposal.

Verizon argues in its appeal that the FCC's Dec. 21 order exceeds its authority, is arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of its discretion, and is unconsitutional as well.

It asks that the FCC vacate the order and "provide such additional relief as may be appropriate."

"Verizon has long been committed to preserving an open Internet and meeting the needs of our customers," the company said in a statement. "We have worked extensively with all players in the Internet and communications space to shape policies that ensure an open Internet and encourage investment, innovation and collaboration with content providers and others to meet the needs of consumers."

"Today's filing is the result of a careful review of the FCC's order. We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself. 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," the company said.

Free Press quickly assailed the telco's challenge and motivation.

"Verizon's decision demonstrates that even the most weak and watered-down rules aren't enough to appease giant phone companies," said Free Press policy counsel Aparna Sridhar in a statement.

Free Press had pushed for net neutrality regs, but wanted them tougher, and the FCC to buttress them by classifying Internet access as a Title II telecommunications service subject to access regs. The FCC has kept the Title II docket open, but has indicated it thinks its new regs are legally sustainable under its current classification.

"It's ironic that Verizon is unhappy with rules that were written to placate it, and it's now clear that it will settle for nothing less than total deregulation and a toothless FCC in the relentless pursuit of profit," according to Sridhar.