The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the FCC’s Open Internet rules was greeted with plaudits from the commission but disappointment from the telecom industry.
Not surprisingly FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saw the ruling as a victory that will ensure unconstrained access to the web.
“It ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth. After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future,” the chairman said in a prepared text.
Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of CTIA, said the organization supports an open Internet but would continue to pursue alternative methods of achieving it through congressional and judicial means.
“For the United States to remain the global mobile leader, we need rules that help promote consumer access to 5G and the Internet of Things without subjecting the wireless industry to investment-chilling public utility regulation. In the interim, we urge the FCC to support innovative new services, like free data, that benefit consumers and reflect the highly competitive mobile market,” Baker said in a prepared statement.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association was equally disappointed with the court’s decision. In a statement on its website, it didn’t say if there would be an appeal but pointed out that the judges’decisions would be closely scrutinized.
“We will carefully review the majority and dissenting opinions before determining next steps. Though disappointed in today’s result, we are particularly gratified by Judge Williams’ recognition of the ‘watery thin and self-contradictory’ nature of the FCC arguments used to justify the imposition of common carriage laws on Internet networks,” NCTA wrote.
Like CTIA, the NCTA called on Congress to pass net neutrality laws. “We urge bipartisan leaders in Congress to renew their efforts to craft meaningful legislation that can end ongoing uncertainty, promote network investment, and protect consumers.”
Wells Fargo Securities said the ruling would be a negative for telecom carriers but that it will probably be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, uncertainty will be injected into the process since the appeal will take place under a new administration and Congress many act in the meantime.
“Today’s decision has implications for how the FCC acts in a variety of rulemaking proceedings that impact our telecom carriers including privacy and special access. The decision, if it stands, will also impact the pricing and network management tools available to mobile carriers,” wrote Jennifer Fritzsche, senior analyst.