USTelecom files appeal against FCC's net neutrality rules

USTelecom has made the first move to challenge the FCC's new net neutrality rules by filing a review petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals.

By making this filing, the industry group will be able to "make its arguments through the appellate process," said USTelecom Chairman Walter McCormick in a statement.

The industry group, which represents large telcos like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), said its legal appeal will focus on the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband Internet access as a public utility service under Title II of the Communications Act, allowing stricter regulation of ISPs. 

"The focus of our legal appeal will be on the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as a public utility service after a decade of amazing innovation and investment under the FCC's previous light-touch approach," said Jon Banks, senior vice president of USTelecom, in a statement. "As our industry has said many times, we do not block or throttle traffic and FCC rules prohibiting blocking or throttling will not be the focus of our appeal."

USTelecom added that it supports the net neutrality rules and the rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking or throttling specific Internet traffic.

Taking a similar tone heralded by AT&T and Verizon, the industry association said the FCC could have implemented these rules by relying on other legislation, such as Section 706 of the Communications Act, rather than starting a stricter regulatory regime under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. 

News of USTelecom's move should not be all that surprising. A Reuters report emerged last week saying that some of USTelecom's biggest members like Verizon would not file individual lawsuits. Instead, they will participate in the suits by working through industry trade groups such as USTelecom.

Besides USTelecom, the report revealed that CTIA-The Wireless Association and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) will also file suits challenging the FCC's order.

By working with these trade associations, service providers would be able to streamline the litigation and avoid the negative publicity they might receive by opposing the rules.

"We believe there will be a lot of litigation, which will probably be led by industry associations," Verizon's CFO Fran Shammo told Reuters last week.

Verizon led the effort to overturn the net neutrality rules the FCC passed in 2010.

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

Special report: Complete coverage: Net neutrality for wireless and wireline carriers

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