Free Press lawsuit says wireless carriers got off too easy

Internet advocacy group Free Press has filed a lawsuit challenging the FCC's new net neutrality rules, which are scheduled to go into effect Nov. 23.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, is challenging the FCC's distinction between wireless and wireline networks. The group believes wireless operators got off too easy.

Last December, the FCC passed net neutrality rules in a contentious 3-2 vote. Under the new rules, wireless carriers are 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, they do not face the same restrictions wired operators do on blocking Web traffic and other applications--a ban on unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic.

"There is no evidence in the record to justify this arbitrary distinction between wired and wireless Internet access," Free Press policy director Matt Wood said in a statement.

More lawsuits are expected to fly now that the rules have been published in the Federal Register. Last year Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) sued over the new rules, arguing that FCC does not have the right to impose or enforce rules on how they manage traffic on their respective networks. Those lawsuits were thrown out after the Appeals for the District of Columbia said the rules couldn't be challenged before they were published in the Federal Register.

Verizon has indicated it intends to refile its lawsuit. A MetroPCS spokesman recently declined to comment to sister publication FierceWireless on the company's next legal maneuvers. Congressional Republicans, who have been adamantly opposed to the rules, could also ratchet back up legislation to block the rules.

For more:
- see this AP article

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