Appeals court knocks down Verizon net neutrality challenge

The three-judge panel calls the appeal premature

An appeals court Monday dismissed Verizon's challenge of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's December net neutrality ruling, calling it premature.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia noted in its decision that the FCC's net neutrality order is a rule-making document subject to judicial review once it is published in the Federal Register. The panel said that the appeal's "prematurity is incurable."

In its December ruling, the FCC voted to prohibit broadband service providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content and applications. As expected, the ruling unleashed protests from an array of big service providers.

Verizon appealed the FCC ruling on Jan. 20.

"We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself," said Michael Glover, Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel, in a statement accompanying the challenge.

Backers of the net neutrality ruling Monday hailed the appeals court's decision.

"This is hardly surprising," said a statement from Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior vice president and policy director of the Media Access Project. "Verizon tried to game the system by attempting to challenge the FCC's open Internet decision prior to its official release. ... The future of the Internet is too important for such legal shenanigans. Notwithstanding Verizon's ploy, this case will be heard in the right court, at the right time."

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