MetroPCS has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent rulings on net neutrality.
The nation’s fifth largest carrier – behind Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, respectively – is the second carrier to do so this month. On Jan. 20, Verizon similarly filed an appeal against the FCC with the same court, calling into question both the FCC’s newest rules and its authority to impose them.”MetroPCS is committed to promoting competition and an open Internet by giving consumers choices for wireless Internet access services at prices they can afford,” Roger D. Linquist, MetroPCS president and CEO, said in a Jan. 25 statement.”MetroPCS’ concerns regarding the jurisdictional basis for the Net Neutrality rules, the recent appeal filed by Verizon, and challenges raised by some proponents of Net Neutrality to MetroPCS’ recent 4G rate plans,” Linquist continued, “have caused MetroPCS to appeal the FCC’s Net Neutrality Order to ensure that the concerns of competitive wireless carriers, like MetroPCS, are addressed.”The FCC ruling, in part, discourages cable and phone companies from offering faster Internet service to customers that are willing to pay for it. It also insists that broadband providers publicly disclose their network management practices, and bars them from “engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic,” according to a Dec. 21 statement from the FCC.More than a high-minded objection to the FCC ruling, MetroPCS has a financial incentive to see it overturned. In early January, the carrier announced the rollout of a 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network to nine major metropolitan areas.”Our 4G LTE network can deliver unlimited voice and mobile broadband data services and, with these new service plans, consumers are in the driver’s seat on how much additional data access and real-time entertainment content they want to pay for on a monthly basis,” Lindquist said in a Jan. 3 statement.Details in its three service plans, however, as Ars Technica has pointed out, appear to be in conflict with the FCC ruling, as, while offering the MetroPCS-branded MetroStudio video service, they exclude competing services such as Skype and Netflix.According to Reuters, the Appeals Court that Verizon and MetroPCS chose to file with is viewed as a “favorable venue for such challenges.” It was the same court that in 2010 ruled in favor of cable provider Comcast, finding that the FCC lacked the authority to prevent Comcast from blocking applications that it deemed as using up too much bandwidth. It was the Comcast ruling that spurred the FCC’s net neutrality order.The FCC, in a Dec. 21, 2010, statement, described broadband providers as endangering the Internet’s openness by “blocking or degrading disfavored content and applications without disclosing their practices to consumers.” Its rulings, it added, are a way of acting to “preserve the Internet as an open network enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, user control, competition and the freedom to innovate.”