FCC net neutrality rules spark claims of violations
The ink is barely dry on the Federal Communications Commission's rules to protect Internet access, and claims of violations are already surfacing.
For example, consumer groups say wireless provider Metro PCS is blocking services such as Skype. Level 3 and Voxel, two behind-the-scenes companies that carry Internet traffic, say Comcast has unfairly raised prices for them to deliver online videos to home subscribers.
The companies being singled out say it's all untrue. But these first tests of the new regulations have been quite enough for Internet access giant Verizon Communications, which sued the FCC last week seeking to have the rules overturned. The company wants to nip in the bud what it fears could be more regulatory oversight.
"We looked at what was happening with Metro PCS, Level 3 and other noise around the issue and were concerned regulation would expand further into new areas," a Verizon spokesman said.
The legal challenge was expected and the FCC is probably in store for more courtroom tussling over its so-called net neutrality order. The Internet access rule prohibits carriers from blocking or arbitrarily slowing the transmission of any particular Web traffic into consumers' homes.
Access providers say the FCC took on more than it was allowed, pointing to a federal appeals court decision last April that overturned the agency's sanctions against Comcast for blocking file sharing between subscribers.
The FCC has said it believes it is on sound legal footing, citing various parts of telecommunications laws to justify new rules.
"Companies and customers will have to become even more accustomed to living in a world with a basic set of net-neutrality rules," said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.
The new era of Internet access regulation has set the stage for a battle between companies over interpretations of how far the rules really go.
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| January 25, 2011; 7:27 AM ET
Categories: FCC, Net Neutrality
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