Verizon, MetroPCS take latest stab to curtail the FCC's net neutrality rules

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and MetroPCS (NYSE: PCS) on Monday once again took their argument to a federal appeals court to get the FCC's net neutrality rules overturned.

The two service providers filed their suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., which was the same court that in April 2010 struck down the FCC's authority to prevent Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) from blocking subscribers from using a file-sharing service. Last April, the court dismissed a suit challenging the net neutrality rules brought by the two companies, arguing that they had filed it too soon.

In the new joint filing, Verizon and MetroPCS argued that the FCC's net neutrality rules was created out of what they called a "hodgepodge of provisions" in the Communications Act to give itself "broad authority," adding that they hamper free speech and property rights.  

"It violates the First Amendment by stripping them of control over the transmission of speech on their networks," the two service providers argued. "And it takes network owners' property without compensation by mandating that they turn over those networks for the occupation and use of others at a regulated rate of zero, undermining owners' multibillion-dollar-backed expectations that they would be able to decide how best to employ their networks to serve consumers and deterring network investment."

Although this is the second time these two companies have filed a suit challenging net neutrality, the FCC isn't backing down from its stance.

"We look forward to defending our open Internet rules in court," Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. "This strong and balanced framework is helping ensure that the Internet continues to thrive as an engine for innovation, investment, job creation, and free expression."

Under the FCC's net neutrality structure, wireline service providers have can't block access to other competitive Over the Top (OTT) services such as Skype or Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX).

After the FCC passed the net neutrality rules on a 3-2 Democrat-led vote in December 2010, they went into effect on Nov. 20, 2011. Last October, Verizon's argument against the rule was grouped with six other parties in one case that would be heard by the Washington court. The court has not set a date to hear the new arguments from the two companies.

For more:
- Bloomberg via Business Week has this article
- CED has this article

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