ISP lobbyists ask FCC not to enforce common carrier rules while under court review

by Steve Blum • , ,

We’re all on the same page.

Internet service providers – nearly all of them – want the Federal Communications Commission to put common carrier regulations on hold while a federal appeals court decides whether or not the new rules are legal. Five major lobbying fronts representing cable, telephone, mobile and fixed wireless companies, as well as AT&T and CenturyLink, say that enforcing common carrier rules during the review process would cause “irreparable harm” because the appeal is “likely to succeed on the merits”.

Of course, they would say that. It’s their appeal, after all. As the joint telco/wisp petition puts it, the FCC’s decision too radical to stand…

By fundamentally transforming the regulatory regime under which the Internet operates, and essentially converting broadband into a public utility, the Commission has imposed radical and burdensome obligations, compliance costs, and litigation risks on small and large providers of both fixed and mobile services. As [republican commissioner Ajit Pai] explained, thousands of small providers will particularly be harmed, as they “don’t have the means or the margins to withstand a regulatory onslaught.” Some may be “squeezed . . . out of business altogether.”

Among other things, those companies’ retail offerings are now, for the first time, subject to the Commission’s authority to set just and reasonable rates and to police unreasonable discrimination, as well as the Commission’s new Internet conduct standard — even though Chairman Wheeler admits he “do[esn’t] really know” what that standard means. The Commission has also put its thumb firmly on the scale in negotiations for IP network interconnection agreements, and some parties to such agreements are already demanding changes and threatening regulatory complaints if they do not get their way.

The odds of the FCC putting its own decision on hold are pretty slim, but they need to go through the motions before they ask a federal judge to do the same thing.

Joint petition filed by the United States Telecom Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, AT&T Inc., the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and CenturyLink

Joint petition filed by the American Cable Association and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association