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.
To see how we got here, please check out the following stories:
- Verizon Fights Net Neutrality Order
- MetroPCS Turns on LTE in Four More Markets
- MetroPCS Continues 4G Price War
- FCC Votes to Approve Net Neutrality Rules
- Network Neutrality Rules Poised to Pass
- Net Neutrality Ruling: FCC Loses, Comcast Wins
- Comcast Fights FCC Net Neutrality Order
- FCC Throttles Comcast
- Comcast Goes 'Protocol Agnostic' Everywhere
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable