Arguing that recent legal challenges filed by Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS are premature, the FCC asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday to dismiss the companies’ petitions that seek reversal of net neutrality rules that were adopted by the FCC in December by a narrow 3-2 margin. On January 20, Verizon filed the first of several anticipated court challenges against the FCC’s net neutrality order, which prohibits broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or degrading lawful web content, applications and services except as needed for “reasonable network management,” and engaging in discrimination with respect to the transmission of Internet traffic. On the heels of Verizon’s motion, MetroPCS, the nation’s fifth-largest wireless carrier, filed a similar appeal that, like the Verizon petition, also accuses the FCC of exceeding its authority in enacting the net neutrality rules. Both petitions were filed prior to publication of the net neutrality order in the Federal Register. Although Federal Register publication normally triggers the 60-day deadline by which parties may seek court review of rules adopted by the FCC, Verizon and MetroPCS both contend that, because the net neutrality order has the effect of modifying each company’s wireless licenses, an early appeal before the D.C. Circuit—the sole appellate venue with the authority to decide FCC licensing matters—is justified. The D.C. Circuit is also the court that, last April, struck down the FCC’s ruling in the Comcast-BitTorrent case, thus putting into question the extent of the FCC’s regulatory power over the Internet. (However, on Wednesday, that court rejected without comment Verizon’s motion that the same three-judge panel that decided the Comcast-BitTorrent case review the company’s petition in the matter at hand.) Countering that “the rules that govern when and how parties may challenge FCC orders are clear,” the FCC urged the D.C. Circuit to dismiss the Verizon and MetroPCS petitions on procedural grounds.