FCC's net neutrality rules could be published soon, paving way for lawsuits

The FCC is expected to send its net neutrality rules to the Office of Management Budget (OMB) for Paperwork Reduction Act vetting soon, according to Multichannel News. The move is important because the FCC's new rules can't be challenged in court until they are published in the Federal Register, and that can't happen until the OMB puts the rules out for comment for 30 days.

(OMB first has to vet the paperwork-collection requirements to ensure they don't violate Congress' Paperwork Reduction Act mandate to keep paper usage at a minimum.)

Back in April, a federal appeals court threw out lawsuits filed by both MetroPCS and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), arguing that the lawsuits were "premature." The court said service providers couldn't challenge the rules until they were published in the Federal Register.

At the time, Verizon indicated it would refile its complaint against the FCC's rules for wireless and wireline networks. Both Verizon and MetroPCS argued the FCC does not have the right to impose or enforce rules on how operators manage traffic on their respective networks.

Under the net neutrality rules passed by the FCC in December, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), T-Mobile USA and other wireless carriers will be barred from blocking services like Google Voice and Skype that compete with their own voice and video offerings, as well as those in which they have an attributable interest. However, wireless carriers would not face the same restrictions wired operators will on blocking Web traffic and other applications--a ban on unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic.

Wireless carriers also will face transparency requirements on network management policies and a basic "no-blocking" rule on lawful content and applications. The no-blocking rule won't generally apply to carrier engaged in the operations of application storefronts. The rules will allow for reasonable network management--which is defined as actions that are "appropriate and tailored to a legitimate network management purpose, taking into account network architecture."

For more:
- see this Multichannel News article

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