Telecom industry seeks to stay the FCC's net neutrality rules

— 6:00 AM on May 4, 2015

Major Internet service providers and other telecom companies in the United States haven't been happy with the Federal Communications Commission since its decision to reclassify them as common carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1934. Computerworld reports that seven ISPs and telecom trade groups have already filed suit against the FCC regarding its decision, but according to an article by Ars Technica, industry groups want more immediate relief. Ars writes that several telecom industry groups have also requested stays from Title II reclassification from the FCC. Stays would nullify the rules while the courts work things out.

One such petition comes by way of the American Cable Association and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, while another joint action comes from broadband group USTelecom and wireless industry group CTIA. Despite the separate petitions, the complaints and relief sought by each group are quite similar.

All of the petitioners emphasize that they don't want to stop the FCC's "net neutrality" rules against paid prioritization, throttling, or blocking of sites for the time being (though the USTelecom petition expressly notes that the group's request only for a partial stay is not a concession that these rules are lawful). Rather, they claim that their classification as providers of "information services" under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 protects them from the imposition of Title II common carrier rules (which, according to the 1996 law, can only be applied to providers of "telecommunications services"), and that being forced to operate under Title II regulation is both unlawful and harmful to the businesses they represent—hence, the need for an immediate stay.

It seems likely the courts will be ruling on these petitions as well as the industry's lawsuits. Ars' article says that requests for stays from the FCC must be filed with the agency before they can be heard by the courts. If the FCC fails to act on these petitions or denies the requests, the industry groups could then seek relief from the judicial system.

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