USTelecom, which represents companies including AT&T and Verizon, insists it is not challenging the objectives behind the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality order, rather its use of decades-old regulation.
The trade group, also known as the US Telecom Association, filed its suit in the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia on the grounds that the regulator’s open Internet order is “arbitrary and capricious”, and violates federal law. It is the first of what is likely to be a number of legal challenges for the FCC.
The regulator’s net neutrality rules will reclassify broadband providers, mobile and fixed, as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act, a piece of legislation that dates from 1934.
“Reclassifying broadband Internet access as a public utility reverses decades of established legal precedent at the FCC and upheld by the Supreme Court,” wrote USTelecom president Walter McCormick, in an accompanying statement.
He claimed such common carrier regulation slowed innovation, discourages investment and heaps costs on consumers.
The FCC, and its chairman Tom Wheeler, has argued the net neutrality order is a contemporary interpretation of the old Title II, effectively reworking the rule as a piece of light-touch regulation.
The rules were passed by the agency in late February, fully disclosed in March and come into effect on 12 June.