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Groups ask FCC to delay net neutrality rules

Groups ask FCC to delay net neutrality rules

A group of major Internet service providers is asking the Federal Communications Commission to put part of its new net neutrality rules on hold during the impending court battle.  

AT&T, CenturyLink, The Wireless Association and US Telecom filed a more than 100-page petition with the FCC arguing the rules would cause irreparable harm if they take effect.  

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The companies and others have already launched a handful of lawsuits to try and kill the new rules. They argue those challenges are likely to succeed and want to prevent the regulations from taking effect while the lawsuits proceed. 

"The commission's drastic departure from established law threatens petitioners and the public with immediate, irreparable harm," according to the filing

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the American Cable Association filed their own joint petition minutes later.

The FCC, which approved the rules on a 3-2 vote in February, is almost certain to reject the petition. But Friday's move offers the opening step for those companies to take their request before a judge. 

Republicans and service providers are fiercely opposed to the new order, which would reclassify broadband Internet under the utility authority that now governs traditional telephones. That new authority was put in place so the FCC could have more power to prevent providers from slowing, blocking or giving priority access to any Internet traffic.

In the Friday brief, the groups argue the new classification would open providers up to litigation and would harm investment. 

Importantly, the companies are not asking to stay the actual rules preventing blocking, throttling or paid prioritization. Instead, they are fighting reclassification as well as a broader conduct standard the FCC put in place.  

While they are not conceding those specific blocking and throttling rules are lawful, they do not believe they alone would cause "irreparable harm," a requirement for a judge to stay the rules. 

The rules were published in the Federal Register earlier this month and are scheduled to take effect after 60 days. Because of the time crunch, the companies asked the FCC to respond by May 8.