Net Neutrality

FCC Rejects Title II Stay Request

Showing that it intends to go full steam ahead with next month's planned imposition of utility-style regulations for broadband providers, the FCC has turned down requests by cable, telco and wireless interests to delay implementation of the new rules.

In two separate but related joint orders late Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's Wireline Competition Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau rejected petitions by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) , American Cable Association (ACA) , United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) , CTIA , Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) to stay the reclassification of broadband Internet as a Title II service under the Communications Act. The two bureaus dismissed industry arguments that the new rules would "impose immediate and substantial burdens on both providers and consumers." (See NCTA & ACA Petition FCC to Stay Title II.)

Instead, the two Commission offices concluded that the requested stay would "likely result in harm to consumers and innovators and, for the same reasons, would be counter to the public interest." Contending that the agency's late February Open Internet Order will maintain "the status quo of an open Internet," the bureaus said, "The record here was replete with evidence that the regulatory regime adopted in the order is both essential to protect consumers and innovators against harms arising from a lack of openness and best serves the public interest."

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The Commission's rejection of the stay request did not exactly come as a great shock to anyone. In his keynote address at the cable industry's INTX show in Chicago last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made it clear that he intends to go forward with the planned June 12 implementation of the Title II rules and urged the industry to move on to other battles. (See Wheeler to Cable: Suck It Up.)

But, much as Wheeler might wish for that outcome, it's not too likely to happen. The NCTA and ACA have already indicated that they will seek a stay against Title II in the US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The two cable groups, USTelecom, CTIA and others are also seeking to overturn the rules in the federal courts.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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