In a notably unsurprising move, several telecom and cable giants filed a stay request Friday to keep the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reclassifying broadband Net service as a Title II public utility.
But they did not request that the federal agency rescind its rules prohibiting fast lanes for Net traffic to consumers.
Their reason for the stay: Compliance would impose “crushing” costs on the providers, and would thus keep them from investing in things like upgrades to provide faster Net service.
As with the telephone voice system, public utility classification prevents Internet providers from giving preferential speeds or other special considerations to content companies that pay extra. As common carriers, Net providers would have to treat every content source the same.
The carriers’ strategy appears to be to prevent a general implementation of common carrier rules, while allowing a ban on preferential treatment for consumers. But there’s a question whether the agency has the authority to sustain such a ban, unless it reclassifies Net access as a common carrier service.
In late February, the FCC voted 3-to-2 to classify the Internet as a public utility. The move came after months of other proposals floated by Chairman Tom Wheeler that stopped short of full Net neutrality. The new regulations are set to begin June 12.
As soon as the FCC’s intention became clear in early February, AT&T and Verizon began indicating their intentions to sue.
The new filing, reported by Reuters, is expected to be rejected by the federal agency, further setting the stage for court action by the carriers.
AT&T, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the American Cable Association, CTIA — The Wireless Association, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, the U.S. Telecom Association, and CenturyLink submitted the filing.