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Public Knowledge Asks FCC to Deny Stay Petition

Public Knowledge has filed its official opposition to a petition to stay implementation of the FCC's Title II reclassification order until a federal appeals court has heard numerous challenges.

In its filing, Public Knowledge said that granting a stay would "[deny] customers the guarantee of an Open Internet while causing uncertainty for companies and consumers alike."

Public Knowledge's petition was aimed at the first stay request filed, that of Daniel Berninger, VoIP pioneer and founder of the Voice Communication Exchange Committee. Others followed from cable and telecom associations. According to Public Knowledge senior VP Harold Feld, that is because the deadline was Monday (May 4) to respond to his petition, while it is Friday (May 8) for the others.

“Mr. Berninger argues that protecting consumer access to the Open Internet should wait while telephone and cable companies fight these protections in the courts," said Feld. "Mr. Berninger thinks it would be better for himself and his business if broadband companies could prioritize his services over those of rivals, and claims to suffer irreparable harm from his inability to negotiate such business arrangements."

“But as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said on the day the FCC approved the net neutrality Order, ‘The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones to make the rules.’"

The FCC is expected not to grant the stays, which will trigger requests for a stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is hearing the legal challenges.

Scott Cleland, of ISP-backed NetCompetition, argues the court is likely to grant at least a partial stay. "[E]ven though stay requests normally have a low probability of success, because petitioners must convince the court that they are likely to win on the merits and that the opposed action will cause irreparable harm," he said, "close review of the FCC Order and the stay petitions (telecom & cable) exposes that this is not a normal case with normal long odds. This particular petition for a partial stay has a more likely than not chance of being granted."

Berninger replied to the Public Knowledge filing in a YouTube video.

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.