Court Sets Briefing Schedule for Net Neutrality Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit has set a
briefing schedule for Verizon and MetroPCS' challenge of the FCC's network
neutrality rules, and that schedule suggests there won't be a decision until
sometime in 2013.

According to a copy of the schedule, released Friday,
initial briefs are due July 2, with final briefs due Nov. 21. According to one
attorney following the case, that signals oral argument in the January-February
time frame.

The parties had agreed on a briefing schedule in April,
which they submitted to the court.

The court essentially approved that schedule.

The court also agreed to let MetroPCS file a separate reply
brief. They had asked for the dual briefs because Verizon and MetroPCS are on
opposite sides in a separate challenge to FCC data roaming rules (though the
two also want to file a joint brief as well). In that challenge, Verizon and
MetroPCS disagree over the FCC's authority to regulate wireless broadband,
which is also at issue in the network neutrality rules challenge.

Free Press will also get to file a separate reply brief
since it opposes the FCC for entirely different reasons.

It says the rules don't go far enough, not too far as the
others contend.

In a challenge launched in January 2011, Verizon argues that
the FCC's Dec. 21, 2010, order exceeds its authority, is arbitrary and
capricious and an abuse of its discretion, and is unconstitutional as well. It
asks that the FCC vacate the order and "provide such additional relief as
may be appropriate."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.