In a brief filed with the D.C. Circuit court on Monday, the FCC defended its 2010 open Internet order, arguing that the net neutrality rules adopted in that order correspond with the FCC’s directive in Section 706 of the Communications Act to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans.” The D.C. Circuit is considering appeals of the open Internet order that were filed by Verizon and MetroPCS. Adopted by a divided FCC along party lines, the open Internet rules require service transparency and unfettered, nondiscriminatory transmission of web content across networks, except as required for “reasonable” network management. These rules apply to wireless as well as to fixed broadband service providers, with the further stipulation that wireless operators are also barred from blocking websites or applications that compete against their voice and video service offerings. In its appeal, Verizon argued that the FCC exceeded its authority in adopting net neutrality rules and that the agency thus “conjured a role” for itself as a regulator of the Internet. Taking aim at Verizon’s arguments, the FCC cited “multiple indications to the contrary” that include, among others, the FCC’s congressionally-mandated oversight of telecommunications, the agency’s discretion—as confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court—to classify broadband as an information or a telecommunications service, and the FCC’s “longstanding authority to craft policy for information services to further its numerous other functions.” Addressing its decision to impose net neutrality rules on wireless broadband, the FCC pointed to the “expansive powers” of Title III of the Communications Act, adding that the FCC’s plenary authority over spectrum licenses “allows the Commission to place public interest conditions not only on newly issued licenses but also on existing licenses, whenever doing so will promote the public interest.” The FCC also advised the court that the agency’s 2010 finding that broadband services were not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely manner triggered Section 706(b) of the Communications Act, which “authorizes—indeed requires—the Commission to accelerate deployment of broadband and promote competition in telecommunications markets.” As such, the FCC proclaimed that the open Internet rules adopted later that year “serve both of those goals.”
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FCC defends open Internet rules in appellate court brief
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