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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/24/2011

What next for net neutrality? Lawsuits galore

By Cecilia Kang

Now what for net neutrality?

After Verizon Communications announced last week a legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission's controversial order, analysts say a lawsuit showdown is probably in the works. Verizon filed their suit in the same federal court of appeals where the FCC was told it overstepped its authority by sanctioning Comcast for blocking BitTorrent traffic.

" If the case remains in the same appeals court that reined in FCC internet oversight less than 12 months ago, there's a reasonable chance open-internet guidelines narrowly approved by the FCC late last month will fall by the wayside," said Jeffrey Silva, senior policy director for Global Medley Advisors. "If that occurs, it will be difficult for Democrats to resurrect net neutrality in the altered political landscape."

To prevent that from happening, experts say proponents of the FCC's net neutrality rule will likely file suits in other courts to try to move the case out of D.C. The way things work, that could trigger a lottery to determine where the case is ultimately heard. Verizon will likely fight to keep the case in the D.C. appeals court, a source close to Verizon's thinking said.

The FCC tried to write its order to address that court's criticisms of the FCC's authority to regulate broadband service providers. It did so by relying on interpretations of other sections of telecom law.

But even with all the legal wrangling of armies of lawyers in Washington D.C. for and against the order, the FCC's first time Internet access rules will stand.

"Companies and customers will have become even more accustomed to living in a world with a
basic set of net neutrality rules," wrote Rebecca Arbogast and David Kaut, analsyts at Stifel Nicolaus. "And we would expect the FCC to continue to impose the rules in other mergers that
come its way, as it and DOJ did with Comcast-NBCU."

Last Friday, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America filed09-191 01-21-2011 Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America 7021026387(2).pdf a letter to the FCC urging the agency to look at practices by Comcast and Metro PCS that the groups say appear to violate net neutrality. Comcast, they say, appears to have unfairly edged out modem maker Zoom from entering the market. Metro PCS, with tiered pricing plans that make some video applications available but not others, also appear to be violating rules, they said.

By Cecilia Kang  | January 24, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Comcast, FCC, Net Neutrality  
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With no express authority in the Comm Act to regulate Internet services, and "ancillary jurisdiction" guidance given by the Comcast Court not met, it's likely that Verizon has a good case against the FCC, as I have blogged on here:

Posted by: MikeWendy | January 24, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Is this a statement of fact or opinion?

"But even with all the legal wrangling of armies of lawyers in Washington D.C. for and against the order, the FCC's first time Internet access rules will stand."

Posted by: thais1 | January 24, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Cecilia Kang, Google's lobbyist and reporter at The Post, makes a pronouncement calculated to please her patron: "...the FCC's first time Internet access rules will stand." Never mind that the rules are illegal (the FCC lacks authority to impose them) or that they are not "access" rules but rather rules that meddle with the internal management of the network; the truth isn't important. What is important that advertiser Google, which lobbied for the rules, be happy.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | January 24, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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