Cable operators, wireline and wireless phone service carriers and other parties that recently filed court challenges against the FCC’s February 26 Open Internet order have asked the FCC to stay the effectiveness of provisions that reclassify broadband Internet services as Title II telecommunications services subject to common carrier regulation. Filed last Friday, the FCC petitions constitute a first required step before affected parties may submit motions for stay in the D.C. Circuit and other appellate courts where petitions for review of the Title II rules are now pending. Absent an FCC or court-ordered stay, the rules adopted by the FCC in February will go into effect in mid-June.
In a joint request for stay, wireless association CTIA, the U.S. Telecom Association, AT&T, CenturyLink and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association targeted not only the Title II portions of the Open Internet order but also “the broad, but amorphous ‘Internet conduct standard’ that allows the Commission to adjudicate whether new and innovative services and offerings may proceed.” The joint petitioners emphasized that they do not “seek a stay of the three prophylactic ‘bright line’ rules that are generally associated with ‘net neutrality’—no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization.” Those parties argued, however, that the FCC “has identified no urgent public interest need to layer common carrier regulation and a vague Internet conduct standard on top of those rules while petitions for review are pending.”
Along a similar vein, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the American Cable Association (ACA) maintained that they “do not seek a stay of the core open-Internet rules that were the original aim of this proceeding, but ask only to preserve the status quo that the Commission itself has maintained for decades.” Asserting that a stay of Title II reclassification “will cause the Commission or the public no prejudice,” NCTA and ACA predicted that a grant of their request “would provide stability and avoid costly uncertainty and confusion that would result if the [Title II] Order takes effect but is later overturned.” NCTA President Michael Powell told reporters, meanwhile, that “we continue to urge Congress to settle the matter through legislation” as litigation “will likely take years to resolve and the final outcome is unknown.”