September 30, 2011 / 9:00 PM / 9 years ago

Verizon asks court to halt FCC net neutrality rule

(Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc on Friday asked a federal appeals court to block the Federal Communications Commission from imposing new rules on how Internet service providers manage their networks.

The FCC last Friday said its so-called net neutrality rules were scheduled to take effect on November 20.

These rules would forbid broadband providers from blocking users from accessing lawful content, such as movie files, while giving the providers flexibility to manage their networks and prevent congestion.

Critics call the rules an unwarranted government intrusion into regulating the Internet, including which content consumers may access and which companies may provide that content.

In a filing with the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., Verizon said the FCC was “arbitrary” and “capricious” and acted beyond its statutory authority in imposing the rules.

The rules “impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself,” Michael Glover, deputy general counsel at Verizon, said in a statement.

“Verizon is fully committed to an open Internet, he added.

New York-based Verizon is one of the largest U.S. phone companies, and with Vodafone Group Plc owns Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile phone service.

The FCC did not respond to requests for comment. It has said the rules boost predictability, stimulate investment and ensure job creation and economic growth.

Some public interest groups have also criticized the FCC rules, saying they are weak and favor some phone and cable companies with large Internet presences, such as AT&T Inc and Comcast Corp.

The D.C. Circuit in April threw out a challenge by Verizon and MetroPCS Communications Inc to the rules, calling it premature.

FCC rulemaking generally cannot be challenged until rules are published in the Federal Register, as the agency has now done.

In April, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to overturn the FCC rules. That effort faces a tougher battle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The White House has said advisers to President Barack Obama would recommend a veto of any resolution against the rules.

The case is Verizon v. FCC et al, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-1359.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, editing by Matthew Lewis and Carol Bishopric

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