The DC Circuit upheld the FCC’s Open Internet rules today. In a statement, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the ruling is “a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the Internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth. After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible Internet protections—both on fixed and mobile networks—that will ensure the Internet remains open, now and in the future.”
Three groups of petitioners, consisting primarily of broadband providers and their associations, challenged the FCC’s Order, arguing that the Commission lacks statutory authority to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, that even if the Commission has such authority its decision was arbitrary and capricious, that the Commission impermissibly classified mobile broadband as a commercial mobile service, that the Commission impermissibly forbore from certain provisions of Title II, and that some of the rules violate the First Amendment.
NCTA said it’s reviewing the DC Circuit’s split decision and determining the next steps. “Though disappointed in today’s result, we are particularly gratified by Judge Williams’ recognition of the ‘watery thin and self-contradictory’ nature of the FCC arguments used to justify the imposition of common carriage laws on Internet networks.,” the cable group said. “While this is unlikely the last step in this decade-long debate over Internet regulation, we urge bipartisan leaders in Congress to renew their efforts to craft meaningful legislation that can end ongoing uncertainty, promote network investment, and protect consumers.”