Telecoms Request Rehearing on Net Neutrality Appeal

Tom Wheeler Getty H 2016
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Major U.S. telecom companies have requested a rehearing on a federal appellate court's ruling to uphold net neutrality rules, which advocates say ensure the internet remains open and accessible regardless of which company is providing the connection.

The petition, filed by the U.S. Telecom Association against the Federal Communications Commission, continues one of the biggest debates in U.S. technology law, between internet service providers, who see greater potential for monetizing the internet, and end users, who benefit from unrestricted access.

Last month, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals fully upheld the FCC's net neutrality rules, which reclassified the internet as a public utility, a move that subjects it to stringent regulation by the government.

The petition calls the appellate court's decision to uphold net neutrality rules "one of the most consequential telecommunications rulemakings in American history" and claims it "flouts bedrock administrative-law requirements."

The telecoms are arguing that the FCC failed to justify why the internet should be specially protected and shouldn't have the same type of commercial potential as any other newly developed technology.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler responded quickly with a statement on Friday.

“It comes as no surprise that the big dogs have challenged the three-judge panel’s decision," he said, referring to the major U.S. telecom companies. "We are confident that the full court will agree with the panel’s affirmation of the FCC’s clear authority to enact its strong Open Internet rules.”