Court Rules in Favor of FCC, Internet Regulations Take Effect Friday

A federal appeals court on Thursday denied a request to put on hold Internet regulations pending the outcome of litigation, dealing a victory to the regulatory agency that adopted them.

Thanks to the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., the Net neutrality regulations take effect Friday.

“This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators!” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open. Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past. The rules also give broadband providers the certainty and economic incentive to build fast and competitive broadband networks.”

Critics of the regulations said the FCC’s decision to treat broadband as a telecommunications service is an erroneous and precedented one that could prove burdensome to industry. AT&T, CenturyLink and other litigants asked the D.C. Circuit to put on hold the reclassification decision, but they didn’t request a stay of Internet regulations that prohibit blocking, slowing down and so-called paid prioritization of Web traffic.

CompTel, a trade association in Washington, D.C. representing competitive carriers that have the right under the new regulations to file grievances with the FCC over interconnection network disputes with the likes of AT&T and Verizon, celebrated the ruling.

“The court’s decision reaffirms the Federal Communications Commission and Chairman Tom Wheeler’s light-touch approach to deliver the strongest possible protections,” said Chip Pickering, CompTel’s CEO and a former U.S. Republican congressman from Mississippi, in a statement. “We are already seeing the results in the marketplace, as interconnection agreements move forward, helping to deliver more content at a faster rate.”

Although the U.S. wireless industry was disappointed in the court decision, it said the court fight is in the early stages.

“The case is just beginning and the stakes are high – the U.S. is the world’s leader in the deployment and adoption of wireless broadband, due in large measure to decades of light-touch regulation,” Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, said in a statement. “The wireless industry seeks to restore that approach so consumers can benefit from competition and innovation, rather than suffer the harmful consequences of the FCC’s overreach that would imperil new services and inhibit investment. As we said from day one, CTIA and its member companies support an open Internet. We look forward to presenting our full case to the court.”

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