Broadband Industry Drops Challenge To California Net Neutrality Law

After nearly four years of litigation, the broadband industry this week abandoned its challenge to California's net neutrality law.

That law -- like the Federal Communications Commission's former net neutrality rules -- prohibits broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic and charging higher fees for fast-lane service.

The California law also explicitly bars carriers carriers from exempting their own video streams from subscribers' data caps.

Four industry groups (American Cable Association, CTIA -- The Wireless Association, NCTA -- The Internet & Television Association and USTelecom -- The Broadband Association) challenged the California measure and sought a court order blocking enforcement.

A trial judge and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided against the industry, ruling that California could move forward with enforcement.

The lobbying groups could have taken their chances with an unpredictable Supreme Court, but instead said late Wednesday that they were withdrawing the lawsuit.

The four groups also said in a joint statement that they planned to work with Congress and the FCC to develop a federal approach to broadband.

“A common framework protecting the open internet is the right path forward for consumers, innovation, and economic growth,” the groups stated.

Obviously, however, broadband providers tend to define “open internet” differently than either the Obama-era FCC or net neutrality advocates.

One major difference is that broadband providers tend to oppose rules that prevent them from exempting their own video streams from data caps. Providers also have criticized restrictions on paid prioritization -- which involves charging extra fees for faster traffic delivery.

It's worth noting that even though the industry is no longer seeking to block California's law, broadband lobbying groups haven't withdrawn a lawsuit challenging a similar Vermont measure. A spokesperson for the industry declined to comment on that matter.

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