Thursday, September 29, 2011

Verizon Files Legal Challenge to Net Neutrality Rules

Verizon Communications filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit. seeking to block Net Neutrality rules that are expected to go into effect on November 20th. The FCC approved the Net Neutrality rules in December 2010, but they were only published in the Federal Register in late September. Verizon had already challenged the regulations in court but could not proceed with its appeal under the rules were officially published by the Federal government.


"Verizon is fully committed to an open Internet. We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself. We believe this assertion of authority is inconsistent with the statute and will create uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers," stated Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel.
http://www.verizon.com

  • On 21-December-2010, The FCC approved new rules governing the management of Internet traffic, with the three Democrats on the commission voting in favor of the measure and the two Republicans voting against.


    Key elements of the new Order include:


    Rule 1: Transparency -- A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service shall publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of its broadband Internet access services sufficient for consumers to make informed choices regarding use of such services and for content, application, service, and device providers to develop, market, and maintain Internet offerings.


    Rule 2: No Blocking -- A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management. A person engaged in the provision of mobile broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block consumers from accessing lawful websites, subject to reasonable network management; nor shall such person block applications that compete with the provider's voice or video telephony services, subject to reasonable network


    Rule 3: No Unreasonable Discrimination -- A person engaged in the provision of fixed broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer's broadband Internet access service. Reasonable network management shall not constitute unreasonable discrimination.


    Significantly, "reasonable network management" is defined as follows: "A network management practice is reasonable if it is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account the particular network architecture and technology of the broadband Internet access service. Legitimate network management purposes include: ensuring network security and integrity, including by addressing traffic that is harmful to the network; addressing traffic that is unwanted by users (including by premise operators), such as by providing services or capabilities consistent with a user's choices regarding parental controls or security capabilities; and by reducing or mitigating the effects of congestion on the network."


    The FCC rules go on to say that "Pay for Priority" delivery of packets on wireline broadband networks is likely to run afoul of the "no unreasonable discrimination" clause because it would represent a significant departure from current practices.


    Mobile broadband is largely exempt from the "reasonable network management" clause, as the document acknowledges that this market is an earlier-stage platform than fixed broadband, and it is rapidly evolving.

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