USTelecom Refiles Net Neutrality Challenge

 USTelecom did not waste any time refiling its challenge to new FCC network neutrality rules Monday, saying the FCC decision was illegal overreach, unwise policy and unnecessary to achieve its aim of an open Internet.

The biggest telecom trade association had filed a lawsuit last month, just in case the 10-day trigger for being in the lottery to pick the federal court that hears the case was triggered by declaratory ruling portions of the Feb. 26 vote. It said at the time it filed that it thought it was premature, but had filed then just in case.

The rules were published Monday (April 13) in the Federal Register, which inarguably starts a 10-day clock for filings to be considered if the court holds a second lottery and suits are flied in at least two different circuits. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, by lottery, consolidated those first appeals from USTelecom (in the D.C. circuit) and Alamo Broadband (in the Fifth Circuit that covers its Texas home base) in the D.C. Circuit.

"In challenging the legality of the FCC’s Open Internet order, USTelecom believes the FCC used the wrong approach to implementing net neutrality standards, which our industry supports and incorporates into everyday business practices," said USTelecom President Walter McCormick in a statement. "Our appeal is not focused on challenging the objectives articulated by the President, but instead the unjustifiable shift backward to common carrier regulation after more than a decade of significantly expanded broadband access and services for consumers under light-touch regulation. Reclassifying broadband Internet access as a public utility reverses decades of established legal precedent at the FCC and upheld by the Supreme Court.

"History has shown that common carrier regulation slows innovation, chills investment, and leads to increased costs on consumers," he said. "The commission’s overreach is not only legally unsustainable, it is unwise given the enormous success of the commission’s Title I approach for consumers, businesses and Internet entrepreneurs, and it is unnecessary given the fact that broadband service providers are operating in conformance with the open Internet standards advanced by the President, agree with the standards, support their adoption in regulation by the FCC under Section 706, and support their enactment into law by the United States Congress.” 

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.