Tom Wheeler’s confidence has been rewarded.
On Thursday, the US District Court for the District of Columbia announced it was denying requests to delay the implementation of the Federal Communication Commission’s new net neutrality regulations, meaning the rules to protect the open Internet are now in force.
Many Internet and broadband companies filed court actions hoping to delay implementation of the actions passed by the FCC in February with the goal of eventually getting them overturned, but the three-judge panel determined that the “Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review,” as reported by The Hill Thursday afternoon.
“This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators,” FCC Chairman Wheeler said in a statement released Thursday. “Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open. Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past. The rules also give broadband providers the certainty and economic incentive to build fast and competitive broadband networks.”
The court did promise an expedited review of the new regulations, which was reassuring to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who was one of two members of the five-commissioner board to vote against the regulations in February. He claims the new regulations are already hurting broadband providers and resulting in decreased investment in expanding broadband service across the US.
“Although I am disappointed that the court did not stay the rules pending its review, this development was not unexpected,” Pai said in a statement released Thursday. “The bar for granting any stay is quite high, and I am pleased that the court did not suggest that the rules are in fact legally valid. I welcome the court’s coming examination of the FCC’s 313-page order, during which it will have an opportunity to address the court’s serious procedural and substantive flaws.”
Industry groups, including those involved in asking the court for a stay, said they were not done with their fight.
“While we’re disappointed the court declined to grant our stay request, we recognize that the bar for obtaining a stay is exceptionally high,” said Walter B. McCormick Jr., president of U.S. Telecom, one of the petitioners. “However, the court’s decision to grant expedited briefing shows the gravity of the issues at stake and will facilitate a quicker path to determining the proper legal treatment for regulating broadband Internet access service.”