CenturyLink sues the FCC over net neutrality rules

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is suing the FCC over its net neutrality rules. The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Echoing a tone that  AT&T (NYSE: T) cited in its lawsuit filed earlier this week, CenturyLink said it is challenging the FCC's net neutrality order on the grounds that it is arbitrary, capricious and a violation of federal law.

The FCC's net neutrality rules, which were passed in February,  reclassify broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act.

Specifically, CenturyLink said that the FCC could achieve its goal of preventing ISPs from blocking or degrading lawful content without implementing Title II.

"CenturyLink invests hundreds of millions of dollars a year to build, maintain and update an open Internet network and does not block or degrade lawful content," CenturyLink said in a prepared statement. "However, the FCC has chosen to subjugate the Internet to government-controlled public utility regulations from the 1930s."

The company also said that it fears the FCC's net neutrality guidelines will put an end to innovation.  "These regulations not only have no place in the 21st century economy, but will chill innovation and investment," CenturyLink said. "We are challenging the FCC's misguided net neutrality order for these reasons and because we believe it could lead to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers."

Interestingly, CenturyLink chose not to let one of the industry trade groups like the American Cable Association (ACA), CTIA, NCTA or USTelecom--all of which also filed suits--take the lead on these issues.

Nevertheless, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he expects litigation over these rules and he expects to successfully defend those rules. 

But CenturyLink, AT&T and the trade groups that are challenging the new net neutrality rules also have allies in Congress that are also anxious to overturn the FCC's rules.

When the net neutrality rules were passed, CenturyLink said that it would "work with Congress to pass net neutrality legislation that protects consumers and doesn't smother the growth engine of our economy with obsolete regulations."

And earlier this week, a number of Republican lawmakers announced they are are moving ahead with a Resolution of Disapproval to try to overturn the FCC's net neutrality rules. 

For more:
- see the release

Special Report: Net neutrality for wireless and wireline carriers

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