Court tosses out Verizon, MetroPCS net neutrality suits on technicality

A federal appeals court tossed out lawsuits by Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) that challenge the FCC's net neutrality rules, arguing that the suits were filed too soon. However, though the FCC won the skirmish, Verizon indicated it will re-file its complaint against the FCC's rules for wireless and wired networks.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the carriers had challenged the rules before they had been put into the Federal Register. The rules, which the FCC passed by a 3-2 vote in December, have not gone into effect because they still have not been put into the Federal Register. Verizon and MetroPCS filed their suits in January.

Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden told FierceWireless that when the rules are published in the Federal Register, Verizon intends to re-file its lawsuit against. A MetroPCS spokesman declined to comment.

"We are pleased the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with the commission that Verizon and MetroPCS were premature in challenging the Open Internet framework," FCC spokesman Rob Kenny told FierceWireless. "The commission's policy preserves Internet freedom and openness and strikes the right balance for consumers and businesses across America."

Under the FCC's net neutrality rules, wireless carriers are barred from blocking services such as Google Voice and Skype that compete with their own voice and video offerings, as well as those in which they have an attributable interest. Carriers also face transparency requirements on network management policies and a basic "no-blocking" rule on lawful content and applications.

Both Verizon and MetroPCS argued that that the FCC does not have the authority to enact the new rules. The companies also said the agency's rules retroactively modified their wireless spectrum licenses in ways that did not exist when the licenses were granted.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Washington Post article

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