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Cable, Telecom Groups Appeal To Reverse Net Neutrality Decision

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In June, the federal court upheld the recently established net neutrality laws. While the 2-1 ruling may have been a victory for the Obama administration and streaming service providers, including Google and Netflix, it is seen as a setback for cable and telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

Net neutrality laws for an open internet, which has been backed by President Obama, came into effect in February 2015. The laws, officially named the Open Internet order, prohibit cable and telecommunications companies from slowing down or blocking internet traffic, while increasing internet speeds for websites that are capable of paying certain fees to the providers.

Companies such as Google, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu welcomed the decision, since it meant that internet providers would be unable to restrict customers from accessing their content.

On the other side of the argument are companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, which claim that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the right to regulate their internet businesses similar to telephone operations.

The opponents of net neutrality then said that they would be appealing the decision. The appeals have now been filed, with trade associations representing cable, broadband and wireless companies pushing for a rehearing of the net neutrality rules.

Wireless trade association CTIA is urging for the rehearing because of the potential of net neutrality laws to affect the everyday lives of many Americans. AT&T moved for a reversal of the ruling, and separately, USTelecom and CenturyLink motioned for a reconsideration along with the American Cable Association and National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The CTIA is fighting against the treatment of broadband internet similar to a public utility, with Walter McCormick, president of USTelecom, claiming that reclassifying broadband internet as a public utility service would reverse decades of legal precedent that the Supreme Court has upheld.

AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other broadband internet providers are fearful that the Open Internet order would lead to a more complex management of internet traffic, and make it less likely for investments to be made to increase their capacities.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, said that he was not surprised that companies have challenged the June decision. Wheeler, however, remains confident that the appeal will not cause the earlier decision to be overturned.

For now, streaming service providers and advocates of an open internet can celebrate and, if Wheeler's statements turn out to be true, then the celebration will continue well into the future.

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