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Posted at 4:28 PM ET, 01/20/2011

Verizon challenges FCC rules on net neutrality

By Cecilia Kang

Verizon is challenging the Federal Communications Commission's new rules on Internet access with a federal lawsuit, the company announced Thursday.

The FCC order, passed in December, would require internet service providers to treat all content equally on their networks, the so-called net neutrality order.

Verizon Communications said in a press release that it did not believe the agency had the authority to create the rules.

"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 E. Glover, Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel. "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 rules were the federal government's first attempt to regulate Internet access providers. A lawsuit to overturn the rules was largely expected.

The appeal, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, marks another turn in a years-long battle between regulators, phone and cable giants and Internet firms such as Google and Skype over rules that prohibit Internet access providers from blocking or slowing the delivery of sites and applications.

Google, Amazon and Skype have argued that companies such as Verizon and Comcast could decide to prioritize their own or their partners' services. Such practices would prevent new competition and put too much control in the hands of those Internet access providers, they say.

Last month, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to pass rules that prevent blocking and discrimination of Web services by access providers. The two Democratic commissioners sided with Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Still, there is uncertainty over the FCC's authority to regulate broadband Internet services. The same federal court where Verizon filed its appeal ruled last April that the FCC overstepped its authority when it sanctioned Internet service provider Comcast for blocking file-sharing by users of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer application.

Genachowski said last month that he believed certain parts of the Communications Act gave the FCC the right to carry out the regulations. He said the agency was prepared for a court challenge.

By Cecilia Kang  | January 20, 2011; 4:28 PM ET
Categories:  FCC, Net Neutrality, Verizon  
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Comments

With all of the scam/fraud it runs with the FiOS, long-distance telephony and all, if Verizon is challenging the ruling, then it must be good for the consumer.

Posted by: shhhhh | January 20, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The Internet belongs to the public just as much as the broadcast frequency spectrum does. It is the very purpose of the FCC to regulate the Internet to the benefit of the public and not allow the telecoms to stifle competition. As a rule of thumb, anything that Verizon opposes is never because of their altruistic concern for the consumer.

Posted by: hisroc | January 20, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Time for Congress to protect the average American consumer and make it clear. While they are at it, they can go the extra mile in terms of giving the FCC explicit regulatory authority and make it clear Verizon isn't supposed to be out there giving itself premium access. Verizon didn't invent the Internet and they don't have my interests at heart.

Oh, and unbundle my cable channels, could you, please?

Posted by: SarahBB | January 20, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I hope this suit will confirm net neutrality. I am already having nightmares over what the merger of "Comcast and NBC Universal" will mean for me. Will it mean that because I don't have Comcast (and am not even in an area where I could get it if I wanted), I will not have access to movies on Netflix as soon as Comcast customers get them? It seems Netflix has stopped posting available dates on the Saved Movies lists and I am speculating about why.

Posted by: nbriggs | January 20, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Boycott Verizon. Speak with your dollars. They are fighting to give you less service for more money.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | January 20, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Verizon is a horrible company. I had Verizon wireless for a while but every month I had to go through my bill and call them and have them remove the tacked on fake charges. Steal $1 from a million people a month and it adds up. Verizon steals a lot more.

Posted by: greeenmtns | January 20, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

If the FCC is found not to have the authority to regulate the internet then Congress should simply give it that authority. The internet has become a true marketplace of ideas and it would be a huge tragedy if we permit big business to get its tentacles around the internet. They will destroy the internet as we know it and squeeze out normal, biological persons in the remorseless quest of artificial persons for profit and only profit.

Posted by: ejs2 | January 20, 2011 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Derision, oops, I mean Verizon, will be lobbying Republicans in Congress to pressure the FCC.

Genachowski sought a compromise but there is no compromising with the broadband providers, when billions in potential revenue and effective control of the internet is in play. The FCC should have simply defined the Internet as a common carrier and regulate it accordingly.

Until most Americans can get broadband from a half-dozen competitive providers, the telecoms and cablecoms should be in the business of leasing capacity only. Let others provide Internet service and content.

Posted by: j3hess | January 20, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Twas ever thus. Public property being turned to private gain. We the People created the Internet via DARPA. It is OUR Intellectual Property and no former phone company is going to put valves on it so they can charge extra to deep-pocketed users of public property so their sales messages get through in a rush. Let Verizon build their own, utterly separate Internet, which they can then administer as they desire.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | January 20, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

It's the ole "follow the money" rule. Congress reps have recieved so much money from the cable and telco's that they won't give the FCC the authority it needs to act on behalf of the American people. (also, follow the money on debundleing, which used to be in Congress's sights)

Posted by: Hattrik | January 20, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

The giant telecoms want to have their customers under their thumb - one way or another. The innovations they mention are intended to force people to use the sites and view the content that they prefer. They didn't invent the internet and in reality have contributed very little to it. We already have some of the lowest speeds in the developed world. Without net neutrality an already bad situation would be made much worse. The Comcast/NBC Universal merger should never have been allowed and sets a very bad precedent.

Posted by: tm13 | January 20, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree, if Verizon is challenging the ruling, it must be good for the consumer.

Posted by: camasca | January 20, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

There is a reason why film companies were forced to divest of distribution. Broadband providers should not be in the business of owning content. Period.

You cannot tell me that any internet provider will not impose bit-rate charges if they thought they could get away with it.

Posted by: atroncale1 | January 20, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

This is how Trusts are formed. Content providers, entertainment and news, hardware and software, political activists and established parties, collude with those managing the pipes and money changes hands. We develop information oligarchs that control the message and restrain the competition, the third phase of capitalism. The costs are shifted to the consumer, favored content promoted and delivered on a favored platform.

Posted by: Beacon2 | January 20, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

A lot of comments about the public "owning the internet."

Maybe the concept of a collection of interconnected networks was developed with public funding. Maybe some of the protocols as well.

But the actual networks are owned by a variety of entities--governments, private companies, telcos, cable companies and even consumers, who own their internet connected router. These entities want to run their networks as they see fit.

Should consumers be required to open up their wi-fi connections so anyone driving by their home can surf on their connection? By using WEP security, aren't they discriminating what content goes over the internet (its the public internet!)? Will WEP security be a violation of net neutrality?

Posted by: abcdefg4 | January 20, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Colin Powell was used to convince us to go to war.

Michael Powell (his son) was used to render the FCC powerless.

My cable bills rising cost and payment has been paying for a comcast/nbc merger for quite a while now. The fox in the chicken coop was allowed to not only be the gate keeper, content owner, distributor of its own networks channels, and sports property owner, but the programming of its own channels benefits them and not the consumer.

Posted by: MILLER123 | January 20, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

abcdefg4,

Your WiFi analogy is flawed. It is like saying that your neighbor should be allowed to plug in his Christmas lights to the outdoor outlet on your garage wall because you are connected to the power grid.

The Internet is not a physical presence. It is a logical presence that is based on intellectual property owned by the US government, or the people of the US. Companies that provide Internet access are allowed to charge fees for the physical connections that they provide to the larger network. But they cannot be allowed to measure, ration, or restrict access to the network to increase their profitability. They should not be allowed to block competitor's content nor give preferential access to their own content.

Posted by: hisroc | January 20, 2011 7:56 PM | Report abuse

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