Lawsuits Ready as Net Neutrality Rules Take Effect


Washington — The Federal Communications Commission’s
network-neutrality rules will go into effect Nov. 20, almost
a year after they were approved, but before that the
agency will have to defend them in court.

A Verizon Communications spokesman last week reiterated
that the company would sue when it got the green light
via publication of the full rules in the Federal Register, which
happened last Friday (Sept. 23).

Cellular provider MetroPCS is also likely to take the FCC
to court. Both MetroPCS and Verizon Communications tried
to sue early on, but a court told them fi ling suit was premature
and they would have to wait.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association
was part of the industry coalition that hammered out the
compromise rules, and it was not making litigious noises last
week. And don’t look for the nation’s largest cable operator
to challenge them: Comcast agreed to abide by the new netneutrality
rules as a condition of the NBCUniversal merger.

AT&T was part of the same industry coalition, and is
looking to get its merger with wireless carrier T-Mobile USA
through the FCC, so it is an unlikely litigant as well.

The NCTA is no big fan, and has argued that the rules were
unnecessary. But it also concluded those regulations were a
lesser evil than classifying Internet access as a Title II telecom
service for the purposes of regulation.

The order implements three basic rules: 1) a transparency
rule that requires fixed and wireless broadband-service
providers to provide relevant information about their services
to both consumers and to content, applications, and
device providers; 2) a no-blocking rule that prevents fixed
broadband providers from blocking content, applications,
services or devices, subject to “reasonable network management,”
and, in the mobile space, prevents the blocking of access
to websites and applications that compete with voice or
video telephony services, also subject to reasonable network
management; and 3) a rule, applying only to fixed broadband,
that prevents unreasonable discrimination by broadband
providers in delivering the traffic on their networks.

The commission added the rules preventing discrimination
against content or applications and transparency about
network-management practices.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Kay Bailey
Hutchison (R-Tex.), immediately called on their colleagues
to block the rules legislatively.