It may be premature for consumer advocates to do their victory dance now that the FCC has taken the legal step necessary to implement its controversial net neutrality rules. Regulators today put the open Internet standards into the Federal Register, which means they could take effect on Nov. 20. The rules are designed to promote competition on the Web by making it illegal for most broadband providers to favor some content providers. For example, Comcast can’t transmit video streams from Hulu faster than similar streams from, say, Netflix.
But Verizon’s been waiting for just this moment to challenge the rules in court. Early this year, the phone company asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C to shoot them down — the company says the FCC lacks the authority to regulate the Web. The court threw the case out saying that it was premature. Now a Verizon spokesman says that “the expectation is that we will file again although there’s no timeline on when we’ll file.” The cable industry lobby, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, isn’t commenting on the FCC’s decision to move ahead. Consumers Union policy counsel Parul Desai says his group, which favors net neutrality, “will keep fighting to ensure the Internet remains open to all.” And Free Press policy director Matt Wood says his public interest group will “fight to make the rules stronger and to hold the FCC accountable.”