Net Neutrality Rules Face Court Challenge from Cable Industry Groups

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The FCC’s net neutrality rules are facing two more legal challenges from cable industry groups, as two trade associations filed notices of appeal in Washington on Tuesday.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Assn., representing major cable and Internet providers, has hired Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, and Miguel Estrada, former U.S. assistant to the solicitor general, to take their case.

The FCC voted 3-2 on Feb. 26 to reclassify the Internet as a Title II telecommunications service, giving it greater authority to impose rules that prohibit Internet providers from blocking or throttling content, or from selling better access to their subscribers in what is called “paid prioritization.” Internet providers had vowed to challenge the FCC’s move, arguing that the agency was imposing utility-style regulation on the 21st century technology.

“The FCC, in effect, has impermissibly rewritten the Communications Act,” Olson said in a statement. In its petition, the NCTA argues that the FCC’s action was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has predicted that the rules will survive a legal challenge.

The American Cable Assn., representing small- and medium-sized cable operators, also filed a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Its president and CEO, Matthew Polka, said that the new ruling “needlessly saddles ACA’s members — half of which have 1,000 customers or fewer — with the extraordinary burden of complying with a complicated new regulatory regime.”

Another industry group, USTelecom, which represents telecom companies, filed a challenge on Monday, shortly after the FCC’s rules were published in the Federal Register.