MetroPCSSues FCC Over NetNeautrality Rules

Wireless carrier MetroPCS has joined Verizon in challenging the FCC's Dec. 21 vote expanding and codifying its network neutrality guidelines.

Most of the new rules don't apply to wireless broadband, but the ones that do are too much for the companies, as is what they say is the FCC's regulatory overreach.

Like Verizon, MetroPCS filed suit not against the new regulations, but against what they say is a modification of the wireless FCC license. Using that legal route, the case must be heard in the same D.C. Federal Appeals court that found the FCC's defense of its Internet access regulatory authority wanting and threw out its finding against Comcast in the BitTorrent Case.

Had the companies been challenging the regs, they would have had to wait until the rules are published in the federal register, which is hasn't happened yet.

Like Verizon, MetroPCS says the FCC's decision exceeded its authority, was arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of its discretion, as well as being unconstitutional.

Free Press, which has complained that MetroPCS' new 4G service plans could limit access to some applications, was understandably unhappy with the news.

"Instead of responding to the public outcry over its walled-garden practices by offering open Internet access services, MetroPCS has chosen to follow the lead of Verizon Wireless and sue the FCC to strike down the Commission's weak, loophole-ridden rules," said Free Press Policy Counsel Chris Riley. "What we're seeing are the early signs of a full scale assault on the open Internet."

That assault also includes Republican legislators who have vowed to try and block the rules legislatively and conduct hearings and/or investigations into the rules, their impact on the economy, and how the FCC process produced them. Those Republicans, led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) gave Verizon a shout-out for its lawsuit last week and called on others to join it.

MetroPCS said it was unclear whether it had 30 days from when the neutrality order was released (Dec. 24) or published in the Federal Register (which hasn't happened yet), but said it was filing Monday (Jan. 24) just in case.

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.