Net Neutrality Heats Up As Internet Providers Prepare For Legal Battle

It’s not just big companies threatening legal action over net neutrality. Smaller companies want to get in on the action, too. The Washington Post reports that a group that represents small and rural cable companies may sue to overturn the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules, if they ever see the light of day.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is suggesting that the FCC can regulate the Internet providers under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, which would give the FCC authority to ban providers from manipulating online content. Smaller Internet providers are concerned that they will be negatively impacted more than the larger companies by the proposed regulations and are looking for ways to block them.

According to The Washington Post, Matthew Polka, president and chief executive of the American Cable Association, said in an interview, “We believe the FCC must do the proper regulatory flexibility analysis to determine the impact of its regulations on small businesses. We believe the FCC has not done this to date.”

There is some indication that the new rules may never get enforced. Randall Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer at AT&T, told CNBC that legal action is the likely outcome if the FCC continues to move in its current direction on net neutrality.

Stephenson, who says he is in favor of the idea of net neutrality, went on to say, “We have now, under the president’s urging with the FCC, moved from pursuing a free and open Internet to regulating the Internet end to end.”


Stephenson has allies on Capitol Hill arguing against the FCC’s plans, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representatives Greg Walden of Oregon and Fred Upton of Michigan. According to The Oregonian, Walden and Upton are working on their own legislation that they say will protect net neutrality without negatively impacting business innovation and investment.

Ted Cruz, an outspoken opponent of the FCC’s plans to regulate the internet was quoted by the Inquisitr as saying, “If the FCC turns the Internet into a regulated public utility, the innovation, the creativity that has characterized the Internet from its dawn, will inevitably be stifled.”

According to ZDNet, the battle lines have been drawn with major Internet service providers like Verizon and AT&T on one side of the line and technology leaders like Facebook and Google on the other. With corporate titans like these on opposite sides of the issue, a legal battle over net neutrality may be unavoidable.

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