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FCC moves to dismiss Net neutrality lawsuits

The FCC asks a federal appeals court to dismiss two lawsuits filed by wireless service providers looking to overturn its new Net neutrality regulations.

The Federal Communications Commission last week asked a federal court to dismiss lawsuits filed by cell phone service providers Verizon Communications and MetroPCS that challenge the FCC's new Net neutrality regulations.

The FCC said in a statement that the companies filed their suits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit too early. The new rules that were approved by the Commission in December have not taken effect yet.

"The rules that govern when and how parties may challenge FCC orders are clear, and Verizon and MetroPCS filed too early when they challenged the Open Internet order," the FCC said in a press release.

Verizon and Metro PCS recently filed separate lawsuits in the same appeals court challenging the FCC's new Net neutrality rules. These rules will prevent broadband providers from blocking or favoring their own traffic over competing services' traffic.

The FCC argues that the lawsuits were filed too early. Most legal challenges occur after an FCC order has been published in the Federal Register. This has not happened yet in the case of the Net neutrality regulations. Verizon and MetroPCS each said in their suits there are certain exceptions and their cases should be considered early before the rules take effect.

The FCC also questions whether the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is the appropriate venue for the case. This is a key point, since the D.C. Circuit is the same court that last year said that the FCC had overstepped its authority when it sanctioned Comcast for violating the agency's Net neutrality principles.

But Verizon has argued that the D.C. Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over the case, because this court can hear cases where FCC licenses have been modified. And Verizon argues that the new rules retroactively alter the license agreements that Verizon has with the FCC.