A coalition of Internet service providers and trade groups on Friday asked the Federal Communications Commission to stay a portion of the new net neutrality rules, which are slated to take effect next month.
The net neutrality order, approved 3-2 in February, reclassifies broadband service as a utility and imposes some common carrier obligations on providers. The regulations specifically prohibit providers from blocking or degrading service and from striking paid prioritization deals, which involve charging companies higher fees for faster delivery of their traffic. The open Internet order also contains a “general conduct” provision that broadly prohibits providers from engaging in conduct that hinders companies from connecting with consumers online.
The trade groups USTelecom, CTIA-the Wireless Association and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, as well as AT&T and CenturyLink, on Friday asked the FCC to stay the portion of its order that reclassifies broadband as a utility service, as well as the general conduct provision, but not the prohibitions on blocking, degrading or paid prioritization.
“The Commission has identified no urgent public interest need to layer common carrier regulation and a vague Internet conduct standard on top of those rules while petitions for review are pending,” the coalition said Friday in a statement.
The organizations argue in their petition that Internet access should continue to be treated an “information service” -- which isn't subject to common carrier regulations. The new rules reclassify broadband as a “telecommunications service,” subject to some of the same regulations that telephone providers have long had to follow.
“As a result of the seismic shift from a light-touch legal framework to a common carrier regime, multiple providers will have to scale back deployments to rural communities and reverse or limit prior investment decisions,” the organizations argue in the petition for a stay. “These consequences constitute not just irreparable harm to providers, but harm to the public interest in more and better broadband networks and services for American consumers.”
The groups also contend that the common-carrier regime will subject providers to new privacy requirements that “threaten providers with large penalties ... while foregoing pro-competitive marketing practices that are standard in the Internet sphere.”