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U.S. broadband trade group challenges FCC net neutrality

April 13, 2015, 9:01 PM UTC
Federal Communications Commission commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at a FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Michael O'Rielly (R) speaks at a FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. The FCC is expected Thursday to approve Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed "net neutrality" rules, regulating broadband providers more heavily than in the past and restricting their power to control download speeds on the web. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTR4RB8X
Photograph by Yuri Gripas — Reuters

USTelecom, a U.S. trade group representing broadband providers, said on Monday it filed a petition challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s recently approved net neutrality order after the rules were officially published.

The rules take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register on Monday, a step expected to set off a series of lawsuits.

USTelecom said in its filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that its petition “supplements” a lawsuit it had filed there on March 23. The group had said in its previous lawsuit that it filed the challenge in case the rules are construed to be final on the date they were issued in March.

The first 10 days after rules are recorded are a window for parties to file legal challenges that will be consolidated and heard by a federal court determined by a lottery. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association is likely to file a lawsuit within that time frame, said a source familiar with the trade group’s plans.

The FCC’s new rules prevent broadband providers from blocking or slowing any Internet traffic and from striking deals with content companies for smoother delivery to consumers.
Approved in February and posted online on March 12, the rules treat Internet service providers as more heavily regulated “telecommunications services,” more like traditional telephone companies.


“We are confident the FCC’s new Open Internet rules will be upheld by the courts, ensuring enforceable protections for consumers and innovators online,” the FCC said in a statement.

USTelecom, whose members include companies such as CenturyLink (CTL) and AT&T (T), said the new rules were “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” and violate various laws, regulations and procedures.

“Reclassifying broadband Internet access as a public utility reverses decades of established legal precedent at the FCC and upheld by the Supreme Court,” USTelecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement.

In March, Texas-based Internet provider Alamo Broadband Inc similarly challenged the FCC’s rules in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Industry sources have said USTelecom, the NCTA and the CTIA-The Wireless Association trade group were likely to lead legal challenges.