Published on June 3rd, 2015 | by ryankapsar0
Policy and Games: FCC Sued Over Net Neutrality
Policy and Games is a look at tech policy and the gaming world. The views expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of KBMOD or any of its contributors.
Back in March, we wrote that the FCC had approved their new rules on Net Neutrality, correctly predicting that the FCC would be getting sued for these new rules. The first lawsuit came pretty quickly – about 20 days after the FCC approved their rules. There are two groups involved in the lawsuit: US Telecom Association, and Alamo Broadband Inc. The first is fairly unsurprising given that they’re an industry trade group, however, Alamo is a smaller telecom provider that likely would not have actually slowed rates for services like Netflix. Regardless, they predictably took the objections made by Commissioner Ajit Pai during the voting process, and leveraged them for their lawsuit.
Since then, the FCC has had additional plaintiffs sue in other lawsuits, including CenturyLink, AT&T, and Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). In a formulaic move, WISPA joined the suit, as the wireless industry had never been subject to some aspects of the Title II rules that companies like Verizon has been working under.
Despite the number of lawsuits, the FCC isn’t concerned about the likelihood of any of these companies actually succeeding. This is due to their attempts at a lighter hand approach back in 2011 when they lost a lawsuit to Verizon. The court told the FCC that, under the existing classification regime, they did not have the authority to regulate broadband ISPs using Net Neutrality rules. By reclassifying the providers, the FCC has the authority to regulate the companies under said rules. Furthermore, the FCC re-wrote the rules to ensure the same objections wouldn’t lead to a reversal of their vote.
In fact, the FCC’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, is so confident in this, that he bluntly told the National Cable Television Association that it wasn’t going to be overturned a little over two weeks ago. In fact, he suggested that rather than complaining, the companies should start building out their network in the space that their competitors are currently holding, instead of parsing out the country to begin deploying everywhere. Furthermore, net neutrality rules, although not in place yet, are having a “positive” impact on the peering disputes we wrote about last year. Verizon and Cogent have struck a deal where there are doing non-paid peering, which means that companies like Netflix aren’t going to have to pay Verizon to access their network. Similarly, Comcast and Level3 have struck a deal avoiding any issues with Net Neutrality.
With this level of confidence within the FCC, it is unlikely that ISPs will be able to kill the upcoming rules, nor the ones already impacting company behavior. This means that the growth opportunities for these companies are going to be limited to increasing prices or competing in more areas. If the latter is the option these companies end up pursuing, it will only be good for gamers as more competition means lower prices, better service, and higher quality.