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AT&T, Verizon and pals eat own head in effort to kill off net neutrality

Files petition arguing opposite of last petition

Lobbying group USTelecom – AT&T, Verizon etc – has filed a petition against itself in an effort to prevent new net neutrality rules from taking effect.

Demonstrating that when it comes to net neutrality, the telco industry loves nothing more than some self-serving hypocrisy, the group wrote in its petition [PDF]: "Unlike all of the other petitioners that have filed petitions to date [which includes USTelecom], these Petitioners intend to argue that the FCC should have imposed even more regulation on providers of broadband Internet access service, including USTelecom's member companies."

This is, of course, the complete opposite to what USTelecom believes and has lobbied for and has filed a lawsuit and a legal petition over. But hey, its theory is that if it says this thing then it should be "entitled to intervene as a matter of right".

The new FCC rules – agreed to earlier this year following a very public shouting match and some behind-the-scenes Google back-rubbing – will make internet service a "common carrier" platform subject to tighter regulations. The key part of the rules are three core "bright line" rules against throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization.

While the rules are being challenged in the courts by no less than seven different lawsuits (of which USTelecom is one plaintiff), there were also two petitions filed by the CTIA and, yes, USTelecom to stop implementation of the rules until the courts reached a decision.

Earlier this month, the FCC found it had made the right decision in its earlier ruling and rejected the petitions against itself.

"Petitioners have failed to demonstrate that they are likely to succeed on the merits," the FCC said to itself. "The Commission's classification of fixed and mobile [broadband internet access service] as telecommunications services falls well within the Commission's statutory authority, is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and fully complies with the Administrative Procedure Act."

By arguing that actually it meant the opposite of what it said last time, USTelecom seems to believe that it will meet one of the factors that the FCC used in its previous decision, which are:

  1. that it is likely to prevail on the merits
  2. that it will suffer irreparable harm absent the grant of preliminary relief
  3. that other interested parties will not be harmed if the stay is granted
  4. that the public interest would favor grant of the stay

Factors One and Two didn't apply last time and so won't this time. Factor Three would mean USTelecom would be harming itself, so it's easily dismissed, leaving the last factor.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, USTelecom says it believes it would be in the public interest if net neutrality rules were strengthened. Despite its lawsuit saying otherwise. ®

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