Federal Court Denies Request By Industry Groups To Delay Net Neutrality Rules
Score one for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A panel of the United States Court of Appeals consisting of three judges denied a request filed by various wireless carriers and broadband service providers to delay the adoption of net neutrality rules proposed by the FCC. What this means is that the agency's rules will take effect this coming June 12th, Friday, as scheduled.
This latest development should not doubt please the FCC. The agency is currently dealing with numerous lawsuits over the net neutrality rules it drafted and then subsequently voted in favor of (3-2) earlier this year in February. By April, the rules were officially published in the Federal Register, which meant that it had to undergo a standard waiting period of 60 days before it goes into effect. By being published, the rules also became open to lawsuits.
Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, is especially pleased with the ruling. According to Wheeler, when the net neutrality rules take effect in the next few days, there will finally be a referee that ensures that the playing field is fair and open.
For those not in the know, the new net neutrality rules basically move to re-classify broadband as a public utility and then ban broadband operators from slowing down or blocking web traffic. The rules also prohibit web service providers from offering paid priority services that could let them charge fees to content companies (like Netflix, for instance) in order to access faster Internet connections to be able to reach more customers especially when networks get congested.
Broadband service providers are ready to accept the idea of no longer being able to slow down or block traffic, or offer priority Internet lanes for content companies. But what they are violently opposed to is the move to re-classify broadband as a public utility. According to them, such a move will lead to the government regulating rates, as well as hindering investment and growth in infrastructure.
This is essentially why they are filing a lawsuit against the FCC. They argue that the agency is overstepping its authority in changing broadband's classification. And they are requesting the court to delay the net neutrality rules while the lawsuit is ongoing. The DC Circuit judges, however, do not agree. According to them, these anti-net neutrality parties failed to meet the strict requirements to delay the rules.
Still, these folks are not giving up the fight. They may have lost the first skirmish, but apparently the battle is not over yet.