Verizon challenges FCC net neutrality order

Verizon Communication filed an appeal Jan. 20 with the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging last month’s FCC Net Neutrality Report and Order.

The company is questioning whether the agency has been given congressional authority to institute what it describes as “sweeping new regulations” of the Internet and broadband networks. The new regulations prevent Verizon and other carriers from arbitrarily blocking or throttling back the transmission speed of data from websites, which might be competitors, to the homes of consumers.

“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," said Michael Glover, Verizon senior vice president and deputy counsel, in a statement to the press.

The company filed the appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the same court that last spring struck down FCC sanctions against Comcast for using network management practices to block use of BitTorrent file sharing.

Congressman Ed Markey, D-MA, who has authored a neutrality bill in Congress, said that although the company’s appeal was not surprising, if it were to succeed the effect would be to unwind an order that “provides safeguards for consumers and promotes investment and job creation.”

“In some areas, I felt the order did not go far enough, but if it were overturned in its entirety, Internet users, entrepreneurs and our economy as a whole would be adversely affected,” he said in a press statement.

Free Press, an advocacy group seeking media reform, also said the FCC’s net neutrality order did not go far enough.

Apama Sridhar, the group’s policy counsel, said Verizon’s decision to challenge the net neutrality order “demonstrates that even the most weak and watered-down rules aren’t enough to appease giant phone companies.”

Quoting an anonymous FCC source, The New York Times reported online Jan. 20 that the agency will challenge the company’s appeal. The source told the newspaper that the FCC is confident the order is legally sound.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.