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CenturyLink, Windstream-Backed USTelecom Asks D.C. Court to Review FCC Internet Rules

The U.S. broadband industry this week moved to overturn Internet rules that were adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

The United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) argued that the FCC’s Open Internet Order is “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” violates the U.S. Constitution and Communications Act of 1934, and runs afoul of notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements.

The petition for review was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That is the same court that overturned FCC Internet rules more than a year ago following a challenge by Verizon.

Washington, D.C.-based USTelecom represents some of the largest U.S. broadband providers, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream and Verizon.

"The focus of our legal appeal will be on the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as a public utility service after a decade of amazing innovation and investment under the FCC’s previous light-touch approach," Jon Banks, the senior vice president for USTelecom, said in a statement. "As our industry has said many times, we do not block or throttle traffic and FCC rules prohibiting blocking or throttling will not be the focus of our appeal."

A separate petition for review was filed with the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by Texas-based Alamo Broadband Inc.

The FCC told national media that the lawsuits were premature. The 400-page order was released earlier this month, but it hasn’t been published yet in the Federal Register, the government’s legal newspaper.

Others are expected to challenge the FCC’s Internet regulations, which prohibit blocking and slowing down of Web content, ban Internet service providers from prioritizing certain traffic, and require disclosures about their commercial terms and network management practices.

AT&T, Verizon and others have criticized the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service that is subject to Title II regulation under the Communications Act of 1934.

Broadband providers claim such utility-style regulation is onerous and unnecessary because the FCC could have achieved its goal of protecting unfettered access to the Internet by using its authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the agency’s regulations don’t apply burdensome Title II regulations.

“We have heard endless repetition of the talking point that ‘Title II is old-style, 1930’s monopoly regulation.’ It’s a good sound bite, but it is misleading when used to describe the modernized version of Title II in this Order,” Wheeler said in a statement when the order was released on March 12.  


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