Verizon (NYS: VZ) again sued the FCC Friday in an attempt to block it from implementing net neutrality rules, arguing that the commission doesn't have the right to tell Verizon how to manage Internet traffic on its network.
While Verizon insists that the FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate broadband traffic, consumer groups maintain that network neutrality rules set to go into effect next month don't go far enough, and should be applied to wireless providers in addition to broadband ISPs. Three consumer groups have filed lawsuits against the FCC to push it to impose regulations in wireless providers.
Verizon filed its suit at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The suit will likely spark a long battle on the merits of net neutrality. Google (NAS: GOOG) and several other Internet video distributors have pushed for net neutrality rules, expressing concern that cable operators and telcos could throttle content delivered on their networks, or force consumers to pay extra fees for content that consumes significant amounts of bandwidth.
"The phone and cable monopolies, who control almost all Internet access, want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest. They want to build a two-tiered system and block the on-ramps for those who can't pay," Google wrote in a blog post in 2006, when the net neutrality debate began to gain steam.
One of the risks Verizon faces with its lawsuit is that consumer groups could launch campaigns against the telco in which they could argue that Verizon is attempting to limit unfettered access to Web video content from Netflix (NAS: NFLX) and other online video providers. But while some tech-savvy Web surfers may be familiar with the intricacies of net neutrality, it's an arcane issue to most, and not a topic consumers consider when debating which ISP to order service from.
Verizon had filed a lawsuit in early 2011 challenging the FCC's net neutrality rules, but the suit, along with one by MetroPCS, was dismissed by the D.C. circuit appeals court, which ruled the lawsuits were filed prematurely.
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