FCC: Dismiss Verizon, MetroPCS Net Neutrality Challenges

Commission argues that the companies filed their complaints prematurely

Last Updated: February 1, 2011 @ 8:48 AM

The Federal Communications Commission struck back Monday at Verizon and MetroPCS'  challenge to its new net neutrality guidelines.

In several motions filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the FCC asked the court to dismiss both companies’ complaints. 

The FCC claims that Verizon and MetroPCS filed their claims prematurely, and the companies needed to wait until the new regulations were published in the Federal Register.

A senior FCC Official said, “The rules that govern when and how parties may challenge FCC orders are clear, and Verizon and MetroPCS filed too early when they challenged the Open Internet order."

The FCC's efforts to ensure that internet providers don't charge higher rates for premium service have drawn the ire of major corporations and congressional Republicans, who argue that the commission is overstepping its legal mandate. 

In separate filings in the D.C. appeals court, Verizon and MetroPCS argued that the FCC lacked the authority to establish guidelines aimed at preserving a free and open internet.

The FCC had fully anticipated that its ability to draft net neutrality rules would be challenged in court, but where that challenge is heard is more critical than when. 

By forcing the issue now, Verizon and MetroPCS are trying to ensure that the case will be heard in the D.C. Court of Appeals — the same court that shot down FCC's authority to regulate the web last summer.

The FCC is hoping to change the venue so that Verizon and MetroPCS' challenges are heard in a less hostile court. 

That is critical, because the U.S. Court of Appeals decision last summer said the commission — which can regulate broadcast TV and telephone landlines — has never been given authority to regulate the internet. In that particular instance, the appeals court ruled that the FCC could not sanction Comcast for limiting its customers’ ability to download big BitTorrent video files. 

In its filing, Verizon argued that the same three person panel that sided with Comcast earlier hear its court challenge — a move that the FCC is also trying to quash.