Net neutrality challenges by Verizon, MetroPCS dismissed on technicality

Lawsuits filed against the Federal Communications Commission by both Verizon and MetroPCS earlier this year over its new net neutrality rules were dismissed by an appeals court on Monday. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the lawsuits had been filed too early.

Both wireless companies seemingly had hoped to make the issue about protection of rights to its respective spectrum holdings, but judges appeared to lean on rules surrounding how FCC regulations can be challenged. Legal action can only be filed in the 30 days following the publishing of the policies in the Federal Register.

At this point, while the net neutrality rules had been passed by the FCC, it had not yet been published. The panel called the issue "incurable," which means that the entire case has been thrown out. While it seems a technicality, it now means the wireless operators would need to file a completely new case against the FCC using new arguments.

The FCC voted 2-1 in December to prevent ISPs from throttling or favoring one type of traffic over another. ISPs quickly pounced on the new policies, calling them an overstepping of the regulatory agency's power. Verizon sued the FCC in late January, followed a week later by MetroPCS.

Both carriers argued that the rules give the FCC power that Congress has not given through law, and created uncertainty in the industry. But the dismissal was welcomed by both net neutrality supporters and the FCC alike.

"This is hardly surprising. Verizon tried to 'game the system' by attempting to challenge the FCC's open Internet decision prior to its official release," Media Access Project policy director Andrew Jay Schwartzman said in a statement. "The future of the Internet is too important for such legal shenanigans."

The FCC itself reaffirmed its position in a seperate statement from FCC spokesperson Robert Kenny. "The Commission's policy preserves Internet freedom and openness and strikes the right balance for consumers and businesses across America," he said.

Verizon however remains defiant and vowed to refile the case once the conditions are met, calling it "an ongoing process."

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