Menu
Law firm challenges net neutrality rules, saying they're too weak

Law firm challenges net neutrality rules, saying they're too weak

The FCC failed to enforce several telecom regulations, including last-mile network sharing, the petition says

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is facing a new, novel challenge to its recent net neutrality rules: a communications law firm is arguing the regulations aren't strong enough.

The petition from Washington, D.C., law firm Smithwick and Belendiuk is a new wrinkle for the FCC, after a spate of lawsuits from broadband providers and trade groups challenging the rules for creating too many regulations.

The FCC's net neutrality rules, passed Feb. 26, fall short in several ways, firm partner Arthur Belendiuk said. The shortcomings are largely related to the agency's decision to forbear from applying traditional telecommunication regulations to broadband even though it reclassified broadband as a regulated telecom service, he said.

The FCC's net neutrality rules include a change in classification for broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecom service, but the agency decided not to apply traditional telecom rules like rate regulation and last-mile network sharing.

"The FCC did not go far enough in protecting the public's absolute right to freely access the Internet," Belendiuk said by email. "The FCC left many loopholes, which the large gatekeeper corporations can exploit."

The net neutrality rules fail to "provide a clear directive" to broadband providers to share their last-mile connections with competitors, he said. The FCC's failure to "open the door to competition from independent ISPs," may be the most troubling portion of the rules, Belendiuk said.

In addition, the rules ban broadband providers from entering into paid traffic prioritization deals, but they do not ban unpaid traffic priority deals, including sponsored data plans, in which mobile broadband carriers exempt some traffic from their monthly data caps, he added.

"The FCC leaves far too much to be decided on an individual case basis," he added. "The FCC must adopt a clear, bright line rule outlawing all forms of preferential treatment" including sponsored data plans.

The net neutrality rules also forbear from FCC truth-in-billing rules and from requiring broadband providers to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, a pool of money the FCC uses to subsidize telecom service to rural areas, he noted.

Hundreds of small telephone companies contribute to the USF, and "large broadband providers must be made to share in this obligation," Belendiuk said. "The FCC's decision to forbear from applying the Universal Service Fund contribution requirements to broadband providers is unsupported and unjustified."

The law firm filed a petition for reconsideration with the FCC on Tuesday, and the FCC is generally required to act on such petitions before challenges to its rules are heard by an appeals court. Belendiuk filed the petition for the law firm, not for any clients, he said.

The deadline for organizations to file petitions for reconsideration on the FCC's net neutrality rules is Wednesday.

An FCC spokeswoman didn't have an immediate comment on the petition.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentbroadbandregulationinternetlegaltelecommunicationInternet service providersU.S. Federal Communications CommissionCivil lawsuitsArthur BelendiukSmithwick and Belendiuk

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments