Verizon has promised that it will not sue to block net neutrality rules as long as they’re issued without reclassifying broadband providers as utilities. There is a concern that Verizon would do this because that was exactly what it did last time.
In 2010, the FCC issued rules preventing Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against traffic by relying on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, rather than the stronger powers the FCC has under Title II, which covers utilities or “common carriers”.
Verizon sued and won, with a federal appeals court stating that the FCC could not issue what amounted to common carrier rules without first reclassifying broadband service as a utility, similar to the traditional phone network.
Ironically, that is why the FCC is now considering reclassifying broadband. It wants the next set of net neutrality rules to survive a court challenge.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last week that whatever the FCC did, Verizon would sue it.
However Verizon Executive VP Randal Milch said that statement was completely unfair. Verizon will not sue if the FCC uses Section 706, even though that is exactly what Verizon did last time.
Section 706 requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans, and it can be used to govern broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic.
Milch’s e-mail was made public in an ex parte letter filed with the commission yesterday. Milch wrote that rules based on Section 706 “will not be the object of a successful court challenge—by Verizon or anyone else”.
So in otherwords, the FCC will be ok provided it obeys Verizon in all things. It is a bit like the burglars threatening to sue you if your watchdog bites them as they break into your house. In this case the burglars are telling you in advance that you will not be sued if your watchdog does not bite them while they make off with your TV. You cannot be fairer than that.