Net Neutrality Rules Will Survive, FCC Chairman Says

In a speech at the Moritz College of Law, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that new net neutrality laws would hold up to court challenges brought by telecoms, carriers, and their representatives.



Net Neutrality: 4 Legal Challenges To Consider
Net Neutrality: 4 Legal Challenges To Consider
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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is confident that the recent reclassification of broadband Internet services under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will hold up in court, despite charges from broadband providers over the FCC's net neutrality regulations.

At the end of a speech given Friday, March 27, at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, Wheeler told the crowd the FCC’s new rules would be upheld by the courts.

Wheeler recalled that the DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to them and told them they were trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying they are common carriers.

"We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we've had so far," Wheeler said. "That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail."

A full transcript of Wheeler's speech is also available on the FCC's website.

In a 3-2 vote in February, the FCC passed a new set of regulatory measures effectively banning broadband Internet service providers from deliberately slowing, blocking, or favoring specific sites and the content they deliver to the consumer market.

[. Read about Tom Wheeler's talk at MWC.]

"We can have an open Internet policy that advances the interests of tens of thousands of innovators, and millions of Internet users; or we can have an open Internet policy that advances the interests of a few powerful companies," Wheeler said at the close of the speech. "The choice is clear. And I'm proud that the Commission has made the right choice, adopting strong, sustainable, and sensible open Internet protections."

Earlier this month, two lawsuits challenging the FCC were filed by Alamo Broadband from Texas and broadband industry trade organization USTelecom.

The latter was filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a court that a Reuters report noted has already rejected FCC net neutrality proposals twice.

The trade group argues that the way the FCC is implementing the regulations, and not the regulations themselves, are illegal.

In a statement, USTelecom president Walter McCormick said with the reclassification of Title II regulation, the FCC has chosen the wrong path for achieving broadband deployment in all parts of the United States.

"The FCC could best facilitate further investment and competition in broadband services by focusing its efforts on removing the regulatory hurdles to a smooth transition to IP networks, fully implementing Phase II of the Connect America Fund, updating the rural Universal Service Fund for broadband, and taking additional steps to lower the costs of access to local rights-of-way and pole attachments that can make up 20 percent of the cost of deploying fiber," according to the USTelecom statement.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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