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Telecoms Seek FCC Stay Of Title II

In a joint petition, USTelecom, CTIA, AT&T, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and CenturyLink have asked the FCC to stay its Feb. 26 order classifying Internet access as a Title II common carrier service. They have all challenged the new open Internet order in court as well.

VoIP pioneer Daniel Berninger sought an FCC stay earlier in the week.

In their motion, they point out that the commission was sharply divided. But that still leaves a majority backing the decision, and an FCC stay is highly unlikely. The rules go into effect mid-June unless they are stayed by the FCC or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is hearing the appeals of the decision.

"Petitioners request that the Commission immediately stay the Order insofar as it subjects broadband Internet access service and the interconnection of Internet Protocol ('IP') networks to Title II, including the broad, but amorphous, 'Internet conduct standard' that allows the Commission to adjudicate whether new and innovative services and offerings may proceed," they said.

Cable operators have said they, too, can live with bright-line rules against blocking and throttling and pay-for-prioritization. Their court challenges are also focused on the Title II reclassification, including interconnection in that regime, and the conduct standard, which they view as a back door to possible rate regulation and more on a case-by-case basis.

USTelecom et al. said as much in their request for a stay: "Petitioners do not seek a stay of the three prophylactic 'bright-line' rules that are generally associated with 'net neutrality'—no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization—that the Commission adopted. But the Commission has identified no urgent public interest need to layer common carrier regulation and a vague Internet conduct standard on top of those rules while petitions for review are pending."

To grant a stay, the FCC would need to agree that it was in the public interest, that CTIA had a likelihood of prevailing in its challenge to the FCC rules, and that the balance of harms—in granting or not granting—tipped toward CTIA.

John Eggerton
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.