If critics want to delay new net neutrality rules, they will have to go through a judge.
The Federal Communications Commission on Friday denied petitions from eight telecom companies and trade groups asking the agency to hold off on implementing the regulations while critics battle them in court.
A host of trade groups and service providers like AT&T have already filed lawsuits to fully strike down the regulations, which would reclassify broadband Internet access under rules governing traditional telephones.
The regulations are slated to take effect mid-June but service providers want that put on hold, arguing their challenge is likely to succeed.
The FCC’s denial was expected, and opens the door to the next step in the fight. Telecom companies will now be able to ask a federal judge to stay the rules.
The FCC’s decision on reclassification was meant to give the commission broader authority to police net neutrality, the idea that no piece of Internet traffic should be prioritized above another. The order included rules against blocking or throttling traffic, and paid prioritization. The commission also implemented a broader conduct standard for determining abuse.
In its denial of the petitions, the FCC argued that rolling back the conduct standard and reclassification would “eliminate these important regulatory backstops against the harms to consumers and innovators.” The commission also argued the challenges are not likely to succeed because the Internet rule falls “well within the commission’s statutory authority, is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and fully complies with the Administrative Procedure Act.”
Observers have said the court battle could run over several years, potentially into the next presidency.
The denial was in response to a request from US Telecom, CTIA-The Wireless Association, AT&T, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, CenturyLink, the American Cable Association and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Another stay request from tech innovator Daniel Berninger was denied as well.