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Republican legislators, cellular industry launch attack on FCC net neutrality provisions

Net neutrality has once again come under fire from a number of groups, including 14 Republican representatives who introduced a bill Tuesday to let Congress review net neutrality rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission —and potentially halt them.




Proposed by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the bill claims that the rules are "heavy-handed" and would "slow Internet speeds, increase consumer prices and hamper infrastructure development," as first noted by IDG News. He and the bill's co-sponsors are specifically pursuing a "resolution of disapproval," which can't be amended or filibustered, and which forces quick action by the Senate.

Republicans have tried to block net neutrality in the past, but without much success. While most of the FCC's 2010 rules on the matter were ultimately tossed by a US appeals court ruling, Democratic control of the Senate blocked a Republican House resolution in 2011.

At the same time, the CTIA —an industry organization representing cellular companies —filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the new rules. In a blog post, the association argued that it hopes to "protect the competitive mobile marketplace that thrived under a deregulatory framework for decades," and charged that the FCC's rules will let "government bureaucrats" dictate the success of mobile services.

Both measures are in response to the rules being published in the Federal Register on Monday. There is a 60-day window before they take effect.

The FCC is seeking to classify Internet service providers (ISPs) as Title II common carriers and stop them from preferring some traffic over others. A company like Comcast, for instance, would not be able to slow down access to Netflix in favor of its own streaming services, or charge extra to use Facebook or Reddit.

ISPs will already escape the full scope of Title II provisions, such as rate regulation and the unbundling of last-mile infrastructure. Mobile data providers, in fact, will only have to obey provisions against prioritizing different forms of traffic. That could nevertheless quash things like T-Mobile's exemption of music services from datacaps.

In late March, a broadband industry group called USTelecom and a regional ISP, Alamo Broadband, filed their own lawsuits to block the FCC.