Policy + charging

MetroPCS Joins Fight Against Net Neutrality Rules

The wagons are circling against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its recently approved network-neutrality order.

Just five days after a Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) lawsuit, fellow wireless service operator MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) piled on Tuesday, with a similar complaint filed in the same court -- the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It's the same court that overturned a network-neutrality-related order against Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) that set all of this in motion.

Why this matters
Verizon and MetroPCS contend that the net-neutrality order oversteps the Commission's authority. Should the order be overturned, the network-neutrality debate could be reset, with its fate placed in Congressional hands.

This may be just the tip of the iceberg, as a flow of lawsuits was expected to follow after the FCC order was approved on Dec. 21.

MetroPCS is already involved in a net-neutrality spat. Recent complaints say the carrier is violating the rules because its Long Term Evolution (LTE) pricing plans block certain applications and websites. Media Access Project , Free Press and others alleged in a letter to the FCC that the carrier's pricing plans allow unlimited access to YouTube Inc. but disallow or restrict access to other voice and video websites and services -- decisions, they claim, that "lack any engineering merit."

The rules apply a lighter touch to wireless services than wireline services. All providers still must explain how they are managing their networks, but there lacks a provision that would prevent wireless providers from blocking some apps offered through app stores. However, they still must allow access to competitive voice apps.

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To see how we got here, please check out the following stories:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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