Cable industry and wireless industry lobbyists were among the first to do it -- filing lawsuits to challenge the new net neutrality rules recently published in the Federal Register by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). And now, major wireless carrier AT&T has also decided to join in on all the legal action.
Back in February, the FCC had voted 3-2 in favor of new and stricter rules that insure that all Internet services are fairly available to all users, whether they be casual consumers or large companies. Basically, the agency put into effect certain regulations that would ban Internet service providers from blocking or slowing web services or apps. The new rules also aims to forbid broadband companies from setting up fast Internet lanes that would compel content providers, like Netflix for example, to pay for additional charges in order to be able to deliver their content quicker to their customers. After getting published in the Federal Register earlier this week, the new net neutrality rules are expected to go into effect on June 12th of this year.
By getting published, the new rules also became open to lawsuits. And those who opposed it wasted no time in taking legal action. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) mobile trade group filed its lawsuit against the FCC, so did lobby groups such as the American Cable Association and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Also suing are telecoms industry trade group USTelecom, and even Alamo Broadband, a small Texan Internet service provider.
AT&T becomes the latest to file a lawsuit against the FCC. In the petition it filed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, the carrier stated that the FCC's legal basis is arbitrary and capricious. AT&T also claimed that the FCC violated not only the US Constitution, but also the Communications Act of 1934.
Like the other parties that sued the FCC, AT&T is attacking the reclassification of broadband services as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The carrier states that the reclassification could give the FCC authority to set rates and impose tariffs. Moreover, the move could hinder innovation on broadband technology or improvements to existing broad infrastructure.
The FCC remains confident that its new net neutrality rules will withstand any lawsuit thrown its way. Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, believes that the new regulations put in place will be upheld by the courts, insuring that all consumers of broadband services are protected against unfair practices by Internet service providers.
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