Court's Refusal to Stay Net Neutrality Rule Only a Temporary Victory

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-06-13 Print this article Print
Net Neutrality Stay

NEWS ANALYSIS: All sides claim victory in Title II net neutrality fight as the U.S. Circuit Court rejects to block the rules. However, the FCC's victory could be only temporary.

It's a rare happy day here in Washington. While the Congress was at loggerheads about a trade deal, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia has turned down a motion by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) that would block implementation of the Federal Communications Commission order placing Internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act. That order took effect on June 12.

While the court wouldn't order a stay to the Title II implementation, the court did agree to fast track the lawsuits challenging the reclassification. This was the most likely outcome for the petition filed last month after the FCC turned down the motion that it stay its order invoking Title II. Even the petitioners noted when they filed for the stay the court would be unlikely to grant it, but that didn't stop them from trying.

What this means is that Internet service providers are now regulated under Title II rules. Net Neutrality as the FCC defines it is now in effect. That means, among other things that mobile phone carriers that were previously governed under other provisions are now regulated just like wireline phone companies. Likewise, so are cable companies and other ISPs. Paid prioritization is no longer allowed. Neither is the blocking of any legal content on the Internet.

So now that it's finally happened, how will this all affect you? Assuming you're an Internet user like most of us, you probably won't notice any difference. Yes, that's correct, after years of legal maneuvering and lobbying, hundreds of thousands of excited words in press releases and position papers advocating one view or another the end result is nothing. At least not right now.

On the other hand, you also haven't heard the end of this. Both sides will continue until one side or the other finally prevails in the U.S. Supreme Court, but that likely won't happen for years.

What will happen is that both sides will continue their war of words while the lawsuits drag on. That also means that the radio waves in Washington will continue to echo with commercials for one side or another of the net neutrality battle, while radio stations everywhere else have commercials for drug stores and car dealers.

It's worth noting that Washington is the only radio market where you're more likely to hear commercials for a mine-resistant truck than you are for a plain, vanilla pickup truck from Detroit. You're also more likely to hear ads for vertical launch supersonic strike fighters than for Southwest Airlines.

Eventually, perhaps later this year, the Court of Appeals will hear the industry challenge to Title II regulation of the Internet. The preliminary hearings should begin shortly. Meanwhile, the opposition to the Title II reclassification is getting ready.

"There is no good reason to now have the Internet governed under antiquated and onerous regulations that will harm investment and create uncertainty for the communications industry and economy," said TIA CEO Scott Belcher in a prepared statement.


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