WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Trade associations representing wireless, cable and broadband operators on Friday urged the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse a ruling upholding the Obama administration’s landmark rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content.
A three-judge panel in June, in a 2-1 decision, backed the Federal Communications Commission’s so-called net neutrality rules put in place last year to make internet service providers treat all internet traffic equally.
Wireless trade association CTIA said in a court filing on Friday seeking a rehearing that “few final rules of any federal administrative agency have ever had so much potential to affect the lives of so many Americans.”
AT&T also urged the court to reverse the ruling. And in a separate petition, US Telecom and CenturyLink Inc (CTL.N) asked the court to reconsider the ruling, as did the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and American Cable Association.
The cable groups said the court should correct “serious errors” in a decision “that radically reshapes federal law governing a massive sector of the economy, which flourished due to hundreds of billions of dollars of investment made in reliance on the policy the order throws overboard.”
The FCC rules prohibit broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet - essentially a “fast lane” on the web’s information superhighway - to certain internet services over others.
In siding with the FCC, the court treated the internet like a public utility and opened the door to further internet regulations.
“It comes as no surprise that the big dogs have challenged the three-judge panel’s decision,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. He said he was confident the full court would agree with the panel’s decision.
Broadband providers such as Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), AT&T and Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) fear the rules may make it harder to manage internet traffic and also make investment in additional capacity less likely.
In its filing on Friday, the CTIA said it was illegal to subject broadband internet access to “public-utility style, common carrier regulation” and illegal to impose “common-carrier status on mobile broadband.”
The FCC decided in 2015 to reclassify internet service providers as common carriers under a 1996 law.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Trott and Leslie Adler