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Six net neutrality lawsuits: What are the complaints about?

Grant Gross | April 16, 2015
The lawsuits from two ISPs and four trade groups focus on violations of administrative process and constitutional questions.

Many of the court filings include language saying the FCC's net neutrality order is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion." The filings also say the rules violate federal law, including the Constitution, and conflict with "the notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements" of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The original court filings in the six lawsuits are all short, generally running two to three pages, thus providing little more detail about the direction the plaintiffs will take. Longer briefs will be filed in the coming months.

So who's behind these lawsuits? Four of the six lawsuits are filed by trade groups, perhaps an effort to shield ISPs from public backlash. In some cases, however, individual members may not agree with the trade group's decision to file a lawsuit.

AT&T filed its own lawsuit. The company, based in Dallas, has about 16 million wired broadband customers and 121 mobile customers. AT&T is also a member of CTIA and USTelecom, two of the trade groups filing lawsuits against the FCC and the same Washington, D.C., law firm, Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel, is assisting with all three of those lawsuits.

Alamo Broadband, based in Elmendorf, Texas, offers VoIP and wired broadband for homes and businesses, among other services.

National Cable and Telecommunications Association: High-profile members include Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, but equipment providers, including Cisco Systems and Alcatel-Lucent, and cable-related services, including Home Box Office, TiVo and the Weather Channel, are also members.

United States Telecom Association: Members include large telecom providers AT&T, Verizon Communications, CenturyLink, Windstream and Frontier Communications.

CTIA represents the mobile industry. Members include AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular, along with suppliers including Microsoft, Nokia, Blackberry, Cisco and Ericsson. It's worth noting that Sprint endorsed reclassification of broadband, and T-Mobile said it didn't have strong objections, although it preferred the FCC take a different approach.

American Cable Association: The trade group has about 850 small and mid-size cable providers as its members. The membership list includes Great Plains Communications, based in Blair, Nebraska; Wide Open West (WOW) based in Denver; TDS Telecom, based in Madison, Wisconsin; and CableONE, based in Phoenix.

 

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