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AT&T, Verizon and telco pals file lawsuit to KILL net neutrality FOREVER

So the big dogs' backlash begins

Tom Wheeler, Chair of FCC. Image by DonkeyHotey

America's top telcos are suing the FCC over its efforts to impose net neutrality regulations on US broadband networks.

AT&T, Verizon, and others, represented by trade body USTelecom, will drag the Federal Communications Commission to the appeals court in Washington DC in a bid to overturn fresh rules on what ISPs can and can't do with internet connections on US soil.

The Google-friendly regulations, which will treat broadband services like phone lines, are quite radical, so legal challenges were expected.

USTelecom's "protective petition" lawsuit, which you can read below or here as a PDF, was filed on Monday, and comes after a similar sueball was lobbed at the FCC by Texas ISP Alamo Broadband in New Orleans.

AT&T, Verizon et al are furious that they face being reclassified as common carriers, which are heavily regulated, claiming the move "violates federal law, including, but not limited to, the Constitution, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and FCC regulations promulgated thereunder," the paperwork states.

The big telcos are demanding senior judges review the FCC's Open Internet Order, describing it as "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion."

The order, which was pushed through by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and demands things like clearer pricing on broadband packages, has yet to come into force, and must first be scrutinized by US Congress.

"We do not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation invoking Title II authority is legally sustainable," USTelecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement to the media.

"Therefore, we are filing a petition to protect our procedural rights in challenging the recently adopted open Internet order."

Matt Wood, policy director at advocacy warrior group Free Press told the Washington Post: "These companies have threatened all along to sue over the FCC's decision, even though that decision is supported by millions of people and absolutely essential for our economy. Apparently some of them couldn't wait to make good on that threat."

Indeed, it was Verizon's victory in court over the FCC's initial bid to push through net neutrality that has, in part, brought us to this point.

The big telcos' petition is a placeholder, of sorts, for a larger lawsuit looming against the FCC. After the Open Internet Order was made, anyone objecting to the regulations has a couple of months to file suit, and Monday's filing is an attempt to anchor the legal battle in Washington DC. ®

Cartoon of Tom Wheeler courtesy of DonkeyHotey.

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