Verizon sues again to block Net neutrality rules

Verizon Communications refiles a lawsuit Friday to block Net neutrality regulations passed by the FCC late in 2010, which could take effect November 20.

Verizon Communications is taking another stab at overturning the Federal Communication Commission's Net Neutrality rules.

On Friday the company filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit.

After years of debate on the topic, the FCC adopted in late December rules codifying specific Net neutrality principles . The new rules were published in the Federal Register last week, which opened the door to lawsuits.The rules are expected to take effect November 20 .

Verizon had filed a complaint in January to stop the Net Neutrality rules from being implemented. But in April a federal appellate court ruled that Verizon's suit was premature, since the rules had not yet been published in the Federal Register.

Now that the rules have been published , Verizon essentially refiled its complaint against the rules, which are meant to ensure that Internet service providers can't discriminate against certain types of traffic to favor their own services.

The new regulation basically creates two classes of service subject to different rules: one that applies to fixed broadband networks and one for wireless networks.

In its lawsuit, Verizon accuses the FCC of overstepping its authority. And the company has said that because the FCC is trying to impose regulations it doesn't have authority to impose, it's creating uncertainty in the market that will ultimately harm innovation.

"Verizon is fully committed to an open Internet," Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a statement. "We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself."

The first rule requires both wireless and wireline providers to be transparent in how they manage and operate their networks. The second Net neutrality rule prohibits the blocking of traffic on the Internet. The rule applies to both fixed wireline broadband network operators as well as to wireless providers. But the stipulations for each type of network are slightly different. And finally, the last rule applies only to fixed broadband providers. It prohibits fixed wireline broadband providers from unreasonably discriminating against traffic on their network.

Verizon isn't the only group suing to stop the new rules from taking effect. The media reform advocacy group Free Press filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Boston federal court challenging the "arbitrary nature of rule provisions." Free Press supports Net Neutrality rules in general, but the group doesn't like the fact that mobile wireless networks will be treated differently under the regulation than wired networks. The group believes that the same rules that apply to wired networks should apply to wireless networks.

Free Press blasted Verizon for trying to throw out all the rules adopted by the FCC.

"The FCC's rules are flawed and not strong enough," Matt Wood, policy director for Free Press said in a statement. "But Verizon's lawsuit would leave the FCC without any authority to protect Internet users whatsoever. It's a power grab by a company that's looking to squeeze every last cent out of its customers with no rules and no oversight."

 

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