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Verizon Files Appeal Against Net Neutrality

21 Jan, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

Verizon Communications is challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s approval of Internet neutrality rules that would force Internet service providers to treat all Web content equally.

The broadband provider filed an appeal Jan. 20 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, claiming the FCC overstepped its authority.

“We are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself,” Michael E. Glover, Verizon’s SVP and deputy general counsel, said in a statement. “We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress, and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.”

Verizon was among several voices against the rules when they were passed in a 3-2, party-line vote Dec. 21. Tom Tauke, Verizon’s EVP of public affairs, policy and communications, said then that while the company agreed with the goals of an open Internet, the decision broke “with years of bipartisan communications policies that recognized that Internet innovation and investment — and the jobs they create — thrive without government intervention.”

“The FCC appears to assert broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband wireline and wireless networks and the Internet itself,” he said. “This assertion of authority without solid statutory underpinnings will yield continued uncertainty for industry, innovators and investors. In the long run, that is harmful to consumers and the nation.”

Reaction to Verizon’s appeal was both swift and broad-ranging.

“Verizon’s decision demonstrates that even the most weak and watered-down rules aren’t enough to appease giant phone companies,” said Aparna Sridhar, policy counsel for Free Press, a nonprofit media reform group. “It’s ironic that Verizon is unhappy with rules that were written to placate it, and it’s now clear that it will settle for nothing less than total deregulation and a toothless FCC in the relentless pursuit of profit.”

A joint statement from Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) praised the challenge.

“At stake is not just innovation and economic growth, although those concerns are vital,” they said. “Equally important is putting a check on an FCC that is acting beyond the authority granted to it by Congress. Between our legislative efforts and this court action, we will put the FCC back on firmer ground.”

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