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Editorial: Following Suit

The FCC is reaping what it has sown. The lawsuits against the commission majority’s recent decision to reclassify Internet access services as common carriers under Title II has drawn a stampede of suits.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler wanted regulatory certainty, but there may not be much of that for a while, given current legal uncertainty.

Last week, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, American Cable Association, CITA: The Wireless Association, and USTelecom all filed lawsuits. For USTelecom it was suit No. 2—it had filed earlier due to an abundance of caution related to indecision about the appropriate timing of such filings.

The chairman’s instincts about the need for an open Internet are spot-on, but nobody is really disagreeing on the ISP side. His suggestion that ISPs are the viper in the garden, or the broken link in the virtuous cycle, misses the mark—at least to the extent that he paints edge providers as potential victims.

Barring a court stay, the FCC’s rules will go into effect in 60 days after April 13. Before and after that date, ISPs should hold to their pledges of no-blocking or paid prioritization, which they say has been the case without the rules (which were remanded by the court last year) and will be the case whatever happens to the new rules.

Rest assured, the new rules will definitely benefit one sector—the communications bar.