Internet providers are asking the appeals court that upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules earlier this summer to rehear the case.
USTelecom, National Cable & Telecommunications Association and CTIA, together representing internet service providers including AT&T, Verizon, Century Link and Comcast, asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday for an en banc review of their legal challenge to the FCC’s net neutrality rules.
“USTelecom led the legal challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet order because the agency used a flawed and anti-consumer approach to implement net neutrality standards — standards that our members have embraced and incorporated into their network operations,” USTelecom said in a Friday statement.
Telephone, cable, and wireless internet lobbies asked for the rehearing based on notion that the court’s decision to uphold the rules in June was inconsistent with its previous rulings on two prior net neutrality challenges the industry won.
“Regrettably, two judges on the appeals court failed to recognize the significant legal failings of the FCC’s decision to regulate the internet as a public utility,” the statement reads. “USTelecom has asked for an en banc review to help ensure that the FCC does not give itself authority — which Congress has not granted — to impose heavy-handed regulation on internet access.”
The FCC’s previous attempts, which stopped short of reclassifying internet providers as common carrier public utilities similar to telephone networks, were struck down by one of the same judges on the panel that upheld the rules in June.
“Reclassifying broadband access as a public utility service reverses decades of established legal precedent which has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” the group continued. “Our industry strongly supports net neutrality principles and will continue efforts to promote policies that will help America remain a broadband leader.”
The request to rehear the case was one of the few options left open to the industry, the other being an appeal to the Supreme Court — a gamble internet providers are apparently unwilling to try given the court’s even divide following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.
NCTA said they “aren’t challenging the specific net neutrality protections” like content blocking and traffic throttling, but the common carrier designation, described repeatedly by the cable industry as unnecessary given its new, growing emergence as an innovative competitor in the internet market.
“Regrettably, the 2015 Order abruptly and unreasonably abandoned that long-established precedent, reverting to an outdated regulatory framework,” NCTA said in a statement. “Quite simply, as regulators for decades have acknowledged and consistently determined, dynamic Internet networks do not resemble or deserve to be treated like archaic telephone systems.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a Friday statement said it was “no surprise that the big dogs have challenged the three-judge panel’s decision.”
“We are confident that the full court will agree with the panel’s affirmation of the FCC’s clear authority to enact its strong open internet rules, the reasoned decision-making upon which they are based, and the adequacy of the record from which they were developed,” he said.