By Leigh Jones
Verizon Communications Inc. and MetroPCS Communications Inc. have lost challenges to net neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission - at least for now.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 4 threw out two separate cases that claimed the FCC lacked the authority to impose the rules to prevent the companies from blocking content on their networks.
The companies had appealed a Dec. 21 FCC order that adopted the neutrality rules. The court found that the companies’ lawsuits were premature and that they needed to wait until the new rules were published in the Federal Register to challenge them.
Verizon, MetroPCS and several of its affiliates filed the actions alleging that the FCC had overstepped its authority by adopting the rules that regulate network-management policies of service providers. The FCC asserts that it holds the power to impose net neutrality rules under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which urges the agency to promote “advanced telecommunications” services.
Stephen Kinnaird (right), a partner at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker who represents the MetroPCS plaintiffs, said procedural rules were “ambiguous” as to whether his client could file the appeal prior to the publication of the rules in the Federal Register. He was using an “abundance of caution” in filing before publication, he said, adding that he expects his clients to refile.