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NCTA, ACA Ask Court to Stay Title II

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the American Cable Association joined with other ISPs to ask the D.C. federal appeals court to stay the Federal Communications Commission's Title II reclassification order.

That court filing after the FCC last week denied requests by the two associations and others to stay the June 12 effective date of the new Open Internet rules until after the court has heard the underlying legal challenges.

It is actually only a partial stay request, since the groups are not challenging the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling or paid prioritization.

They are asking the court to stay Title II reclassification of Internet service under common-carrier regulations, as well as including interconnection in that regime, and the general conduct standard under which the FCC will review any number of things that it feels could impede the free flow of information on the 'Net and the broadband deployment that encourages.

They also told the court that if it does not grant a stay, it should move quickly to hear and rule on the underlying challenge and agreed to work together to expedite a briefing schedule.

Also seeking the stay in the joint petition were USTelecom, CTIA, AT&T, CenturyLink and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association.

"Today, we have joined with other parties in seeking to stay the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a common-carrier service," said NCTA president Michael Powell in a statement. "Such relief is necessary to avoid the serious and substantial harms that service providers and consumers alike will bear if the FCC is allowed to subject the modern Internet to this antiquated regulatory regime. In seeking this relief, we are mindful that a stay need not upset the FCC’s net-neutrality rules that prohibit Internet blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. We hope that the court will move swiftly to grant effective relief, and that Congress will soon act to provide clear authority and needed direction as to the scope of appropriate open Internet protections."

To get a stay request, the parties must show that they would suffer such harm absent a stay, and that they have a likelihood of winning the case on its merits.

The Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents network equipment suppliers, voiced its support for the effort.

"TIA stands with others in calling for a stop to the FCC’s efforts to regulate the Internet like a utility," TIA CEO Scott Belcher said. "The United States has the best Internet in the world because it is a product of a free-flowing system that promotes innovation. The FCC’s new Title II rules will impact investment in new broadband infrastructure, impeding the growth and innovation that has that taken us this far.”

Speaking for the CTIA, association president Meredith Attwell Baker said: "CTIA is seeking a stay to preserve the light-touch regulatory regime that, until now, has been a bipartisan success story. The FCC’s decision to impose monopoly-era rules on mobile broadband, which is a highly competitive, innovative and evolving market, is an overreach and unnecessary. Our request for stay is to limit the impact that the FCC’s ill-conceived decision would have on America’s global leading wireless industry so that the ecosystem can continue to work for Americans and our nation’s economy.”

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.