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Big Telecom Urges D.C. en Banc Review of Net Neutrality Ruling

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on August 03, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Several weeks have passed since the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC possessed the power to reclassify broadband companies as telecom common carriers, thereby subjecting them to regulatory authority. Well, some of the bigger names in the industry have already decided to fight back.

It was the kind of petition we just knew was in the works. After all, the reclassification stands to shake up potentially billions of dollars in investment by interested parties. What's a little extra cost for petitioning?

Big Telecom's Fight Is "No Surprise"

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, seemed nonplussed by the big telecom industry's move. It's "no surprise that the big dogs have challenged the three-judge panel's decision." The NCTA and the ACA together characterized the decision as lacking a "reasoned explanation" for reclassifying the ISPs and even called the proffered justification as "watery thin and self-contradictory." These words are likely the combined expressions of the companies as well as the counsel representing them in court, Miguel Estrada or Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Reclassification Under the Communications Act

The challenge is in reference to the FCCs reclassification of Internet Service Providers into common carriers more in line with telephone companies and other utilities. The reclassification of the ISPs imposed strict rules upon the companies that banned the blocking of legal content, banned search engine prioritization for pay, and banned throttling of internet traffic. Civil rights groups lauded the decision as momentous.

"Growing Consensus"

The petitioners have been campaigning a multipronged attack and issued a statement prompting the FCC to heed a "growing consensus" that believes increased regulation of ISPs is not in the interest of the public.

The petitioners must also generally feel that legal precedent is on their side. The USTA has said that a rehearing must take place because last year's ruling was contrary to SCOTUS precedent. Of course, reasonable minds can disagree.

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