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FCC Launches Net Neutrality Paperwork Approval Process

The network neutrality rule approval process has officially kicked off.

According to an FCC spokesman, the commission last week sent a notice to be published in the Federal Register. It is not the rules themselves, but instead the a notice seeking comment on the portions of those rules, enforcement and transparency, that require new paperwork and thus must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget before the regulatory changes can be published in the Federal Register, at which point they can be challenged in court.

Because the FCC has a 60-day comment period from whenever that notice seeking comment is published--expected sometime this week--and then OMB has its own 30-day comment period before it publishes them, the earliest the actual rules could be published and thus trigger a court challenge of the regulatory change, is early May, according to the commission's lawyers.

Verizon and MetroPCS have already challenged the rules, but under a separate legal track as a modification of their licenses rather than imposition of new regs.

The rules themselves, whether of not they are challenged in court, don't go into effect until the publication in the Federal Register in May at the earliest, which means the rules won't take effect until Midsummer at the earliest.