CTIA, along with a number of companies and trade organizations, has filed a joint brief with a U.S. Appeals Court that slams the FCC’s Open Internet rules as trampling on Congress’ prior dictates and failing to recognize any difference between wireless and fixed broadband networks.
The briefing calls the FCC’s Order, which reclassifies Internet Services Providers (ISP) under Title II of the Communications Act, “unlawful, arbitrary, and the product of improper procedures.”
“Under the guise of ensuring that the Internet remains “open,” the Order upends the decades-old status quo by subjecting the service that offers consumers the capability to access and use the Internet —broadband Internet access service — to heavy-handed, public-utility-style regulation designed for 19th-century railroads and 1930s telephone monopolies,” the filing asserts.
USTelecom, NCTA, ACA, WISPA, AT&T, and CenturyLink, also signed onto the briefing.
CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement that the FCC’s net neutrality rules put at risk the United States’ leadership in the mobile sphere, arguing that wireless service cannot be lumped in with traditional broadband providers.
“Due to the technical realities of wireless networks, providers must be able to manage usage so that all consumers have the highest quality experience,” Attwell Baker wrote. “By all accounts, under light-touch regulation the U.S. wireless industry created jobs, boosted our economy and provided numerous benefits for Americans. We should maintain this approach that has been supported on a bipartisan basis for decades. We must make sure we remain the envy of the world by encouraging continued investment, innovation and competition in our mobile platform.”
The filing says the FCC did not “seriously discuss” reclassifying mobile broadband under Title II, noting that there were just three sentences in the Commission’s original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that referenced the possibility that mobile broadband would be reclassified as commercial mobile service.
“The NPRM’s “general and open-ended” sentence about reclassification asked only whether mobile broadband fits the definition of commercial mobile service,” the brief states. “It did not suggest that the FCC would change the underlying regulatory requirements for what constitutes commercial mobile service. Indeed, the NPRM never mentioned Voice-over-Internet-Protocol applications, the existing rules defining interconnected and the public switched network, or the possibility of a new test for functional equivalence, the factors that it ultimately relied on in reclassifying mobile broadband under.”
The FCC’s new rules became effective on June 12 amid a flurry of new lawsuits and after the Commission had denied request for a stay of the Title II rules.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he had expected lawsuits but maintained he was confident the rules would stand.
Wheeler has said that classifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act was the last thing that needed to be accomplished for the courts to rule in the FCC’s favor. He referenced Verizon’s lawsuit, which prevailed back in 2010, when the carrier challenged the notion that the FCC had jurisdiction over ISPs, which at the time it didn’t. Wheeler has contended that part of the reason the FCC decided to move on the Open Internet rules was the overwhelming public response in the form of 4 million online comments, of which he said about three quarters were in favor of Title II classification.
Filed Under: Industry regulations