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By Lydia Beyoud
Aug. 17 — The Federal Communications Commission has until Sept. 12 to respond to petitions by broadband providers including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., CenturyLink Inc. and others for a full federal appeals court review of a panel decision upholding the agency's net neutrality rules.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit won't accept replies from broadband providers after that, according to an order issued today. After considering any filings from the FCC and its supporters, the full court will determine whether or not to rehear the case.
The request for responses by the court is standard procedure, Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor at the Georgetown University Law Center Institute for Public Representation in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA via e-mail. “The odds of granting rehearing are still near zero,” Schwartzman said.
Several telecom industry sources told Bloomberg BNA on background that they do not expect the D.C. Circuit to grant a full court hearing.
The three-judge D.C. Circuit panel June 14 upheld the FCC's 2015 decision to reclassify how it regulates broadband internet service providers (ISPs) under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Broadband providers regard the set of rules issued by the agency as far more stringent than those the FCC previously applied to the wireless and wireline industries.
Providers have argued that the reclassification would stymie broadband investment by forcing companies to spend more on regulatory compliance or avoid making business decisions that could risk penalties or agency scrutiny.
Proponents of the rules have said that the agency's prohibitions on blocking, throttling or paid prioritization of internet traffic is necessary to ensure a level playing field for startup companies and consumers.
The court upheld the FCC's rules in a 2-1 ruling U.S. Telecom Ass'n v. FCC, D.C. Cir., 15-1063, order setting reply deadline 8/17/16 .
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