The promised appeals have finally come.
A little over a month after a three-judge panel upheld the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules in Washington, DC Appeals Court, telecommunications industry groups including CTIA, USTelecom and cable association NCTA have filed challenges to the decision.
In a petition submitted to the court Friday, CTIA lobbied for a hearing en banc, which would bring the matter before the full nine-member court of appeals. CTIA argued an en banc review of the case is “critical” because “the FCC has claimed, for the first time, the authority to regulate comprehensively one of the most important communication systems in human history.”
“Few final rules of any federal administrative agency have ever had so much potential to affect the lives of so many Americans,” CTIA wrote in the filing.
As before, CTIA argued the FCC “unlawfully reclassified mobile broadband based on a radical and untenable reimagination of ‘interconnected’ service,” and said the reasoning of the three-judge panel who upheld the rules was flawed.
“There is no way to square the panel majority’s conclusion that mobile broadband service is inseparable from VoIP with its conclusion, earlier in the Opinion, that ‘consumers perceive broadband service … as a standalone offering,’” CTIA said in the filing.
“The majority also ignored that, since the new definition of ‘the public switched network’ encompasses all IP-enabled devices (not just mobile ones), there is a staggering number of Internet endpoints (e.g., billions of servers) that mobile voice users cannot ever reach, even with VoIP,” CTIA continued. “The panel majority should have held that this ‘obviously untenable’ outcome rendered the agency’s interpretation invalid. Instead, the panel majority let the FCC punt.”
In their own joint petition, the NCTA and American Cable Association put forth similar arguments.
The NCTA on Friday said it didn’t celebrate filing the petition, but felt it “necessary to correct unlawful action by the FCC.”
“We aren’t challenging the specific net neutrality protections – as we’ve explained repeatedly, we have long supported the net neutrality principles embodied in the FCC’s 2010 order that could be enforceable under the Commission’s traditional light touch approach to internet regulation,” the NCTA wrote. “(But) because the (2015) FCC Order was such a monumental departure from the FCC’s successful tenure of overseeing broadband internet networks that have seen tremendous investment, expansion and innovation, we seek rehearing of these critical issues.”
The FCC, however, appeared to be undaunted by these challenges.
“It comes as no surprise that the big dogs have challenged the three-judge panel’s decision,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “We are confident that the full court will agree with the panel’s affirmation of the FCC’s clear authority to enact its strong Open Internet rules, the reasoned decision-making upon which they are based, and the adequacy of the record from which they were developed.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations