updated 05:15 pm EDT, Mon April 4, 2011
Verizon and MetroPCS lawsuits temporarily set back
The FCC claimed a minor victory Monday after a US federal appeals court tossed attempts by Verizon and MetroPCS to challenge its net neutrality order. The US agency took advantage of technicalities as both of the carriers had complained before the neutrality rules were entered in the Federal Register. Court judges said the early filings were "incurable" and had to be dismissed outright.
Both MetroPCS and Verizon intended to file the complaints again.
The carriers both object to the rules since they would both require disclosure of any network management techniques and prevent any direct blocks on legal apps over their wireless networks. Although they have made free market claims about determining what happens on their networks, the positions have been mostly to help protect their decisions to block competitive apps or force users to higher tiers. MetroPCS, for example, currently blocks Netflix access on its mobile data plans unless users pay for the best tier of service.
FCC officials have already warned that not having these blocks could lead to carrier blocking VoIP or video services that challenge their own. Until recently, cellular carriers often blocked the use of Skype entirely while on 3G to keep subscribers dependent on their voice minutes. Some carriers, like Verizon, also have services such as V CAST TV, although it's been MetroPCS and not Verizon attempting to stifle video services.
The Verizon lawsuit came even as many suspect that the FCC had based its wireless proposal based on Verizon's teamwork with Google during the net neutrality order's drafting process.