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AT&T files its own suit against FCC net neutrality rules

AT&T, one of the true “big dogs” of telecom, has filed its own lawsuit opposing the FCC’s net neutrality order on Tuesday.

The AT&T suit is the fifth petition filed in the DC circuit court of appeals opposing the net neutrality order so far.  Earlier in the day, The National Cable and Telecommunications Association and CTIA-The Wireless Association, and the American Cable Association, all filed petitions for review in the DC court of appeals against the FCC’s net neutrality order on Tuesday. USTelecom filed an amended petition on Monday.

Like the other four petitioners, AT&T cited similar grounds, primarily that the FCC order is “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion,” and that the FCC order is contrary to the Constitution and established law.  The AT&T petition also argues that the order was passed in a way that “conflicts with the notice and comment rulemaking requirements.”

The petitioners also argue that the FCC overstepped its authority when it reclassified internet services as common carriers, using an 80-year old law designed for telephone services as the basis to regulate internet providers.

The lawsuits have all been filed in the DC circuit, the same court that previously tossed out 2010 FCC effort at net neutrality rules. Whether that give the petitioners an advantage is not clear since the ideological leanings of the Circuit have changed since the Senate curtailed the use of filibusters against judicial appointees.

The court can also consolidate all the parties in similar suits into a single brief.  In a press conference late Tuesday morning, Michael Powell, CEO of the NCTA, the cable industry trade group, noted that parties needed to be prepared for that possibility of a consolidated case.