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The wireless and cable industries just sued to kill net neutrality

The wireless and cable industries just sued to kill net neutrality


As expected, the FCC will have to defend its new rules in court

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The FCC officially published its new net neutrality rules to the Federal Register yesterday, opening the door to legal challenges. Opponents wasted no time. CTIA, the trade association that has represented the wireless industry since 1984, filed a lawsuit with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals today. In a blog post, the group wrote that it intends to push back against "the FCC’s decision to impose sweeping new net neutrality rules and reclassifying mobile broadband as a common carrier utility." The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the American Cable Association, and AT&T also filed suits along similar grounds.

The FCC learned from its earlier legal losses

The lawsuits follow an earlier legal challenge by broadband companies, who object to be classified as Title II services. The FCC, for its part, choose Title II because it believed that would give it a stronger argument in court, something it learned after losing a similar battle over open internet rules to Verizon. But the agency went out of its way to enumerate the ways in which it will forbear from enforcing many of the common carrier regulations that Title II imposes on telephone networks.

"This includes no unbundling of last-mile facilities, no tariffing, no rate regulation, and no cost accounting rules, which results in a carefully tailored application of only those Title II provisions found to directly further the public interest in an open internet and more, better, and open broadband," the agency wrote in the recently passed order.

Big government is the boogeyman

The CTIA tried to frame the argument as big government bureaucrats versus innovative companies and their consumers. "With today’s filing, CTIA seeks to protect the competitive mobile marketplace that thrived under a deregulatory framework for decades. The FCC’s new internet rules are full service regulations that will harm mobile consumers and providers across the country, as well as our nation's wireless future," said Ron Smith, chairman of the CTIA Board and CEO of Bluegrass Cellular. "Instead of letting consumers decide the success of new, innovative mobile services, government bureaucrats will now play that role."

Of course, broadband internet companies like Verizon have been identifying themselves as Title II common carriers when it's helpful for building out their fiber networks. And the new rules aimed at mobile carriers would only prevent them from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing certain data, or offering to exempt certain service from data caps. If you want to take a deeper dive into the history and specifics of the new open internet order, net neutrality, and the legal battle that is brewing, check out the video below.

Update April 14th, 5:57PM ET: This story has been updated to include AT&T's petition.