USTelecom refiles lawsuit against FCC over net neutrality rules

The trade group USTelecom refiled its lawsuit against the FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals claiming the agency overstepped its authority with its net neutrality rules. Specifically, the trade group said that the FCC's decision to reclassify broadband as a Title II telecom service is an abuse of its power and will be an "unjustifiable shift backward to common carrier regulation" that has existed for more than a decade.

The lawsuit is a refiling of an existing suit that USTelecom filed last month, even though it thought it might be premature. However, the group was hopeful that it might be included in the 10-day trigger for being in the lottery to pick the federal court that hears the case, according to Multichannel News

The USTelecom, which represents large telcos like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), appeal focuses 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. 

Specifically, USTelecom believes the FCC used the wrong approach to implementing net neutrality standards and that by reclassifying broadband Internet access as a public utility, the commission reverses decades of established legal precedent at the FCC and upheld by the Supreme Court. "History has shown that common carrier regulation slows innovation, chills investment, and leads to increased costs on consumers," the group said in a statement.   

The FCC today published its net neutrality rules in the Federal Register, a procedural step that acts as a starting gun for legal challenges. Besides USTelecom, many others are expected to sue the commission to overturn the rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he expects litigation over these rules and he expects to successfully defend those rules. 

Cogent and Level 3 Communications have hinted at potential disputes with the FCC, but those complaints will likely focus on how incumbent telcos and cable operators like Verizon and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) are degrading Internet traffic that goes to consumers' homes.

While the net neutrality rules have mandated that Internet service providers should not block or degrade traffic once it's on their networks, the complaints that Cogent and Level 3 could file would focus on how last mile providers load traffic onto their networks.

For more:
- see this petition (PDF)
- see this Multichannel News article

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

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