The FCC's net neutrality regulations have cleared a key regulatory hurdle and will soon be published in the Federal Register, setting the stage for the hotly debated rules to go into effect.
The White House Office of Management and Budget signed off on the regulations on Friday, according to an FCC spokesman. The rules have been sent to the Federal Register, which is expected to publish them within one to three weeks. The regulations become effective 60 days after publication.
The publication of the regulations doesn't mean the fight over the rules is over, however. Verizon Communications has vowed to re-file its lawsuit against the rules after they are published. The company's prior lawsuit was dismissed for being premature.
Verizon alleged the regulations overstepped the FCC's authority in a complaint filed shortly after the agency's 3-2 vote on the rules last December. MetroPCS filed a similar complaint, which was also dismissed for being filed too early. MetroPCS has not said whether it will re-file its complaint once the rules become official.
A legal battle could delay the implementation of the rules.
The FCC exempted wireless operators from the most onerous requirements of its net neutrality regulations. Under the rules, wireless providers must inform customers about data speeds and network management practices and comply with a basic rule barring them from blocking lawful websites and competing services, subject to "reasonable" network management practices.
Fixed broadband Internet providers are subject to the same transparency rules as wireless operators. They are also banned from lawful content, applications, services and non-harmful devices and may not "unreasonably discriminate" against lawful Internet traffic.
The overall wireless industry has been cautiously optimistic about the impact of the regulations. AT&T regulatory affairs executive Robert Quinn told Wireless Week this summer that it would be business as usual after the rules become effective. U.S. Cellular expressed similar sentiments, as did T-Mobile USA.