House Republicans continue attack on FCC's net neutrality rules

Republicans in the House of Representatives continued their push to block the FCC's net neutrality rules for wireless and wired networks, with a committee endorsing a resolution to block the rules from going into effect.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the resolution 30-23, with Republicans voting enthusiastically for the proposal and Democrats objecting that it will leave consumers vulnerable. The measure is expected to pass in the House, but its fate is less certain in the Senate. The move was the latest in a series of tactics Republicans have taken to attack the rules since taking power in the House in January.

The FCC passed net neutrality rules by a 3-2 vote in December, to the dismay of large telcos like AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ). Under the FCC's order, 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. However, wireless carriers 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.

Wireless carriers also 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 carriers engaged in the operations of application storefronts. The rules do 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."

Shortly after the FCC issued its ruling, Verizon filed suit against the action by arguing the agency doesn't have the legal authority to implement the rules. Flat-rate carrier MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) also has filed a lawsuit against the FCC over the topic. The FCC has sought to get the suits dismissed.

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

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