USTelecom Sues FCC Over Net Neutrality Rules

Calls Rules ‘Arbitrary, Capricious and an Abuse of Discretion’ (Updated)
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Let the lawsuits begin.

Eleven days after the FCC released its network neutrality order but prior to its publishing in the Federal Register, a group representing several major telcos and broadband providers and a Texas-based ISP, filed the first of an expected wave of lawsuits that will target the regulatory agency.

USTelecom, a group that includes Verizon Communications, Frontier Communications, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Windstream among its members, filed a Protective Petition for Review  on Monday (March 23) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the same court that vacated much of an earlier version of an FCC Open Internet order that did not reclassify broadband under Title II.

According to the petition, USTelecom “seeks review of the Order on the grounds that it is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” and violates federal law, including but not limited to the Constitution and Communications Act of 1934.

Further, USTelecom said it “requests that this Court hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin, and set aside the Order, and that it provide such additional relief as may be appropriate.”

In a blog about the filing, USTelecom said it was done as a “precautionary move,” noting that it strongly supported open Internet rules, but disagreed with the Title II reclassification. “The focus of our legal appeal will be on the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as a public utility service after a decade of amazing innovation and investment under the FCC's previous light-touch approach,” USTelecom SVP Jon Banks said, in a statement.

"[W]e do not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation invoking Title II authority is legally sustainable,” added USTelecom president Walter McCormick. 

Elmendorf, Texas-based ISP Alamo Broadband made a similar argument in a suit filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Reuters reported.

USTelecom said the petition was filed in case there is a determination that parties must file for review within 10 days of the date of release or issuance of the FCC’s order, rather than 10 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

Updated: “The Commission was served today with two challenges to the Open Internet Order. We believe that the petitions for review filed today are premature and subject to dismissal,” an FCC spokesman said in a statement.