“A federal appeals court in Washington on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s rules for Net neutrality,” Marguerite Reardon reports for CNET. “The case, which Verizon filed against the FCC after it imposed these Open Internet rules in 2011, puts to rest, for at least the time being, a very controversial topic that has been debated in Washington, D.C., for nearly a decade. In plain English, the court rejected Verizon’s argument that the FCC had overstepped its authority to regulate broadband access, instead acknowledging that the FCC has general authority to impose regulations on broadband and wireless service providers. But because the services these providers offer are classified differently from traditional telecommunication services, the justices reasoned in their decision that they are not subject to the same statutes, which guide the agency in forming its regulatory policies.”

“Early in the last decade, there was confusion about how broadband should be regulated. Should it be a telecommunications service subject to ‘common carrier’ regulation. Or should it be classified as an information service, which would not have the same requirements,” Reardon reports. “In 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled in the Brand X case that broadband services should not be classified as telecommunications services. Because broadband is not a telecommunications service, broadband providers’ infrastructure is not considered a public right of way and should not be regulated under the common carrier concept. Justices in the federal appeals court reasoned that because broadband providers are not required to adhere to common carrier rules, the FCC has no authority to impose rules that require them to not discriminate or block traffic.”

“Network operators, such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, have argued that imposing such rules on their networks makes it difficult for them to manage congestion on their networks. It also makes it difficult to develop new business models and revenue streams. They agree that it’s unfair to block traffic, but they argue the FCC should deal with such cases individually. They also believe that the free market and competition will ensure that broadband providers do not prevent consumers from accessing any Internet content,” Reardon reports. “The two Republican FCC commissioners believe it’s time to put to rest FCC rule-making to ensure openness on the Internet. ‘For the second time in four years, the D.C. Circuit has ruled that the FCC exceeded its authority in attempting to regulate the Internet,’ Republican commissioner Ajit Pai said in a statement. ‘It is time for the commission to take no for an answer. Unless Congress acts, we should stay our hand and refrain from any further attempt to micromanage how broadband providers run their networks. We should focus on removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, not imposing unnecessary rules that chill infrastructure investment.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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