Nine Months After Order, FCC Sends Net Neutrality Rules to Federal Register

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The FCC has sent the notice of its “Open Internet” order and rules to the Federal Register for final publication, nearly nine months after adopting them.

Final publication of notices in the Federal Register typically takes one to three weeks after receipt, and the rules would take effect 60 days after that, at which point court appeals may be filed.

Among the expected challengers are Verizon Communications, Inc. and MetroPCS Communications, Inc.. Those companies challenged the FCC's General docket 09-191 and Wireline Competition docket 07-52 Open Internet order earlier this year, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the appeals as premature because the orders had not yet been published in the Federal Register.

Opponents of the rules on Capitol Hill, including Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the respective chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications Subcommittee, questioned whether the delay by the agency was a politically motivated tactic.

Regardless, industry observers widely expect the rules to be appealed. The rules, at their core, aim to prevent internet service providers from blocking access to certain web sites or applications, but have been steeped in controversy since the agency voted to enact them on a partisan, 3-2 vote last December.

Many doubt the FCC's statutory authority to impose net neutrality rules on ISPs, while others question the need for rules at all.

By Paul Barbagallo