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Verizon sues over FCC net neutrality order

Fri, 01/21/2011 - 7:15am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Verizon Communication has filed an appeal challenging the FCC's net neutrality order, which passed by a 3-2 vote in December.

In a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Verizon argues that the FCC overstepped its authority in issuing the regulations, which prohibit broadband Internet service providers from "unreasonable network discrimination" and require wireless operators to let subscribers access lawful content over their networks.

"Today's filing is the result of a careful review of the FCC's order. We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself," said Michael Glover, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel, in a statement. "We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress, and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers."

The FCC declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was met with praise from House Republicans opposed to the FCC's attempts to enforce open Internet regulations.

Congressman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.), chairman and vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, issued a statement yesterday applauding the lawsuit.

"We welcome the decision by Verizon, and hopefully others, to demand their day in court to block the FCC's misguided attempt to regulate the Internet," the lawmakers said in a statement issued Thursday after Verizon filed its appeal. "At stake is not just innovation and economic growth, although those concerns are vital. Equally important is putting a check on an FCC that is acting beyond the authority granted to it by Congress."

Open Internet advocacy group Public Knowledge accused Verizon of "trying to play legal games" with net neutrality. Verizon has filed a motion to have the same group of judges which decided the Comcast case last spring hear its challenge to the net neutrality rules, said Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld.

"Verizon is trying to be too cute in trying to pick not only the venue for the challenge to the rules, but also to pick the judges to hear it," Feld said.

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