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Net Neutrality Rules Published

The FCC's new network neutrality order was published Thursday (April 10) in the Federal Register, which is expected to trigger more lawsuits and starts the clock on the rules' official start date.

The rules, reclassifying Internet access as a Title II telecommunications service, will take effect 60 days from today, April 13.

While phone association USTelecom and Alamo Broadband have already filed suit in different appeals courts, and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, by lottery, has consolidated the appeals in the D.C. Circuit, it is possible those two suites could be ruled premature, since they were filed before publication in the Register.

USTelecom and Alamo both conceded they thought the filings could be premature, and the Register publication was the trigger, they were not sure whether the 10-day window for filings that could be in the lottery was triggered by declaratory rulings in the decision that were effective upon the Feb. 26 vote (they filed their court challenges March 6).

If they are ruled premature, both plan to refile the suits, and others are expected to join them. CTIA: The Wireless Association has pledged to sue, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and American Cable Association have said they may also.

If the two initial suits are ruled to be premature, and they are refiled in two different courts along with new suits, and they are filed or refiled within ten days after the April 10 publication, there could be another lottery and, concieveably, a new appeals court venue for the challenges.

Most critics of the rules would prefer the D.C. Circuit, which has twice ruled against FCC net neutrality regs, first against its Comcast-BitTorrent decision based on what the court concluded were unenforceable open Internet principles, and the second time rejecting most of the 2010 Open Internet order for insufficient legal justification.

“The publication of the rules brings us one step closer to having the enforceable Net Neutrality protections that millions of Americans have called for," said Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood, who is a fan of the new rules' reclassification of ISP's under Title II telecmo regs. "Strong Net Neutrality is crucial to the health of the open Internet. It's a principle most Americans from across the political spectrum support. Restoring it preserves the status quo on the open Internet for businesses, innovators, communities of color, artists and everyday individual users. They all rely on access free of undue interference.

"And yet phone and cable companies are still scheming to overturn these freedoms," he said. CTIA: The Wireless Association has promised to sue, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and American Cable Association may do so as well.

The Internet Innovation Alliance, which is not fan of the new rules, wants Congress to step.

“Today’s Federal Register publication of the Federal Communication Commission’s Title II Net Neutrality decision starts the clock on potential legal challenges of the agency’s decision, given that its rules will soon take effect," the group said. "Instead of relying on the uncertain future of public utility regulation soon to be imposed on the Internet, we encourage Congress to use this window of opportunity to craft legislation that sets forth permanent rules to advance Internet openness, and continued investment and innovation in the nation’s vibrant 21st Century digital broadband economy.”

Alliance members include AT&T and Corning, the latter which provides the fiber for broadband buildouts.

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.