Verizon challenges new net-neutrality rules in court

Verizon's court challenge puts the idea of an open internet to the test.

In a case with important implications for schools as well as consumers, Verizon Communications Inc. on Jan. 20 filed a legal challenge to new federal regulations that prohibit broadband providers from interfering with internet traffic flowing over their networks.

In a filing in federal appeals court in the District of Columbia, Verizon argues that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in adopting the new “net neutrality” rules last month.

The rules prohibit phone and cable companies from favoring or discriminating against certain types of internet content and services—including online calling services such as Skype and internet video services such as Netflix, which in many cases compete with services sold by companies like Verizon.

The FCC’s three Democrats voted to adopt the rules over the opposition of the agency’s two Republicans just before Christmas. Republicans in Congress, who now control the House, have vowed to try to block the rules from taking effect. They argue that the new rules amount to unnecessary regulation that will discourage phone and cable companies from investing in their networks.

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Higher ed disappointed by net-neutrality ‘loopholes’

Several key House Republicans, including newly designated House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, welcomed Verizon’s actions as “a check on an FCC that is acting beyond the authority granted to it by Congress.” The court challenge had been widely expected.

In a statement, Verizon said that while it is “committed to preserving an open internet,” it remains “deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the internet itself.”

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