AT&T and fellow telecom companies are trying to prevent the FCC from rolling out new Net Neutrality rules. The telecom companies’ latest strategy to slow down the new regulation process from taking effect was to request a stay, which would delay the reclassification of internet as a public utility. The court officially denied the stay in its latest ruling. The telecom companies claimed that because they didn’t seek a say request against the three “bright-line” internet rules from the FCC’s new Internet regulation, (no throttling, no paid prioritization, and no obstruction of legal content) their stay would not harm the public interest. Yet, the court failed to agree.
The biggest fear behind the telecom companies push against open internet is that along with reclassifying the internet as a public utility, ISP’s would be classified as “common carriers,” subject to tighter government control. The petitioning telecom companies argued that “maintaining the status quo with respect to their own regulatory status [would] advance the public interest by providing regulatory continuity and stability and promoting investment.”
In the latest arguments from the court, it all boils down what is good for the “public interest.” The FCC’s Net Neutrality rules were laid out for the public interest, yet AT&T claims the new regulations harm public interest, and the court’s latest decree states that AT&T did not properly demonstrate the harm that would be brought to the public interest if the stay was to be denied.
In the court’s denial the telecom companies joint petition for a stay, the court calls the AT&T’s objections to the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules, “unsubstantiated speculation regarding the impact of the Order.” The court concluded that “the stay request is likely to result in harm to consumers and innovators, and for the same reasons, would be counter to the public interest.”
This is unlikely to be the end of AT&T and the telecom industry’s fight against government regulation. This latest court order is a simply hiccup in their strategic attempts to counter the FCC. Their argument bears merit as it isn’t against an open internet, just against being classified as a public utility. Whatever rulings will finally arise from the Net Neutrality arguments in court are likely to have a ripple effect through.