FCC fights AT&T, CenturyLink and others over net neutrality rules

The FCC has filed its opposition to requests made by USTelecom, AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) to stay the implementation of its net neutrality rules, showing that it is not going to give into the telecom industry's pressure to revise its order.

Earlier this month, AT&T and CenturyLink joined USTelecom and CTIA in asking the FCC to stay its action of placing broadband Internet access services under Title II regulation.

In tandem with filing the opposition to the stay request, the regulator also asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite review of the case.

All of the petitioners have until this Thursday, May 28, to file their own replies to the FCC's arguments.

The FCC wrote in its filing that the court, in the 2014 Verizon vs. FCC case, told the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers in order to apply the net neutrality rules of no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization. In reclassifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the FCC also cites the 2005 Supreme Court case NCTA vs. Brand X.

"Brand X recognized that the commission has the discretion, exercised in the order, to divide broadband service into two components: an offering of pure transmission or 'telecommunications services,' on the one hand, and a separate offering of 'information services'—such as the provision of an email address—on the other. And Brand X confirmed that the Commission has the authority to set federal telecommunications policy in this technical and complex area…." the FCC's filing said.

Further, the FCC said that the petitioners have not been able to show irreparable harm. Instead, they cite examples of smaller Internet service providers, a number of which have a few thousand customers.

"Petitioners assert that complying with the new rules will result in 'diminished investment,' citing testimony from only three small, rural ISPs able to show specific examples," wrote the FCC. "This bleak view is not shared by all Petitioners: none of the other declarations provides concrete allegations of decreased investment incentives."

Joining the FCC in opposition to the stay request include competitive telecom industry association COMPTEL and its members Cogent, ComSpan, DISH, Fatbeam, Level 3, Netflix and Sonic.

"The stay request is a desperate attempt by those who seek to block, delay and deny content from moving quickly over the Internet without tolls," said Chip Pickering, CEO of COMPTEL, in a release.  "Four million American voices urged the FCC to support strong open Internet protections. They want more competition, and they don't want content on the Internet controlled by gatekeepers."

For more:
- see the FCC filing
- here's Comptel's filing

Related articles:
CenturyLink, AT&T join USTelecom in asking for stay on net neutrality order
CenturyLink sues the FCC over net neutrality rules
Senator Nelson: We can't put a straightjacket on the FCC
Google Fiber's Medin: Net neutrality doesn't promote broadband competition
USTelecom refiles lawsuit against FCC over net neutrality rules