Net neu­tral­ity rules on track

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Jim Puz­zanghera jim.puz­zanghera@la­times.com

A fed­eral ap­peals court de­clines to halt the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the tough new reg­u­la­tions Fri­day.

WASH­ING­TON — A fed­eral ap­peals court de­clined to halt im­ple­men­ta­tion of tough new net neu­tral­ity reg­u­la­tions, paving the way for the rules to go into ef­fect Fri­day.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Dis­trict of Columbia Cir­cuit de­nied pe­ti­tions for a tem­po­rary stay made by AT&T Inc. and other op­po­nents of the on­line traf­fic rules in sep­a­rate law­suits.

In al­low­ing the rules to take ef­fect, the court granted a re­quest for an ex­pe­dited re­view of the suits.

“This is a huge victory for In­ter­net con­sumers and in­no­va­tors,” said Tom Wheeler, chair­man of the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, which ap­proved the con­tro­ver­sial rules in Fe­bru­ary. “Start­ing Fri­day, there will be a ref­eree on the field to keep the In­ter­net fast, fair and open.”

But the fight isn’t over, said Mered­ith At­twell-Baker, pres­i­dent of trade group CTIA-The Wire­less Assn.

“The case is just be­gin­ning and the stakes are high,” she said. “The U.S. is the world’s leader in the de­ploy­ment and adop­tion of wire­less broad­band, due in large mea­sure to decades of light-touch reg­u­la­tion.”

The reg­u­la­tions, pro­posed by Wheeler, pro­hibit broad­band providers from block­ing, slow­ing or sell­ing faster de­liv­ery of legal con­tent f low­ing through their net­works to con­sumers.

Twice be­fore courts have thwarted the FCC’s ef­forts to es­tab­lish net neu­tral­ity rules.

This time, the FCC clas­si­fied high-speed In­ter­net as a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vice, sub­ject­ing it to util­ity-like over­sight and giv­ing the agency more en­force­ment author­ity.

Wheeler has promised a light-handed ap­proach, and the rules ex­empt broad­band providers from rate reg­u­la­tion and other more oner­ous pro­vi­sions.

But com­pa­nies have com­plained that the door is open for tougher reg­u­la­tion, which they warn would hin­der in­vest­ment in ex­panded net­works.

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