USTelecom, CenturyLink, AT&T jointly file for stay of FCC net neutrality rules

USTelecom and its key members AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) have filed a petition asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to stay the FCC's Open Internet order.

Joining USTelecom, AT&T and CenturyLink in the joint motion filing are the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), CTIA-The Wireless Association, American Cable Association (ACA) and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISP).

"We are not seeking to stay the order's bright-line rules prohibiting blocking, throttling and paid prioritization," said USTelecom President Walter McCormick in a statement. "However, as we said in our previous stay request with the FCC, we are seeking to stay this ill-conceived order's reclassification of broadband service as a public utility service. This reclassification does not serve the public interest, but unlawfully paves the way toward expansive government management of the Internet."

McCormick added that Title II will create an environment where the government will have too much power to manage the Internet.

"This reclassification does not serve the public interest, but unlawfully paves the way toward expansive government management of the Internet," McCormick said. "The facts show the FCC had no adequate legal basis for reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a Title II utility telecommunications service." 

In the filing, the group asks the court to rule on the petition by June 11, a day before the FCC's net neutrality rules go into effect.

The FCC rejected an earlier effort by USTelecom, ACA and CTIA and service providers asking to stay the new rules.

Each of these groups have filed their own court challenges of the net neutrality rules. Separately, AT&T and CenturyLink have filed their own suits against the FCC over the rules.

In the filing, the group claims that a stay of the FCC's order to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers is necessary to avoid "immense burdens and costs that a ruling overturning the order cannot undo" and will "also invite a torrent of enforcement proceedings and litigation, and force providers to undertake costly reviews of countless business practices, from 'traffic exchange' agreements…to the handling of customer information and marketing."

Besides large carriers like AT&T and CenturyLink, the ACA says the rules could put undue burdens on the smaller cable operators it represents.

"This impact will be felt especially hard by smaller ISPs that lack the resources to cope with such a massive shift in policy," said Matthew Polka, president and CEO of the ACA.

A number of groups such as COMPTEL, which represents competitive providers that focus on businesses and support net neutrality, filed a motion to intervene on Tuesday.

In its filing, COMPTEL says that the interests of its members would be adversely affected by a reversal or modification of the FCC's Order.

"The FCC Open Internet Order is a win for streamers and dreamers, allowing consumers to continue welcoming new network builders and video competition with open arms," said Chip Pickering, CEO of COMPTEL, in a release. "We are proud to join with other tech leaders to defend the FCC's Open Internet Order against attacks by old economy Internet service providers that seek to block or slow down new ideas and new markets."

For more:
- see this release
- and the USTelecom filing (.pdf)

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