Verizon Sues FCC over Net Neutrality Rules

Jan 25, 2011 — Allan Pulga

Last month, we reported that, among the big four U.S. carriers, Verizon was the most opposed to the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules (see Net Neutrality). So opposed, in fact, that the carrier announced last week it had filed a lawsuit asking federal appeals court to block the FCC’s recently approved net neutrality regulations for wireless and wired networks.

As Phil Goldstein of FierceWireless reported (Jan. 21), Verizon has said the FCC does not have the authority to enact the new rules. “Verizon argued that the agency’s rules have retroactively modified Verizon’s wireless spectrum licenses in ways that did not exist when the licenses were granted.”

Goldstein explains that under the FCC’s order, wireless carriers are barred from blocking VoIP services like Google Voice and Skype, but notes that wireless carriers would not face the same restrictions as wired operations on blocking web traffic and other applications.

“Wireless carriers also face transparency requirements on network management policies and a basic ‘no-blocking’ rule on lawful content and applications,” he writes. “The no-blocking rule won’t generally aply to carriers engaged in the operations of application storefronts.

“Public interest groups, which have argued that the net neutrality rules do not go far enough to protect consumers, took issue with Verizon’s latest legal maneuver… (arguing that) typical license challenges relate to a single company’s operations, not to a rulemaking that affects numerous companies, and that challenges to rulemakings can be heard in federal appellate circuit.”

Verizon iPhone: Unlimited data now or next-gen iPhone in summer

Since Verizon is launching the iPhone next month (see Verizon iPhone), the carrier is “sweetening the deal for iPhone users (current subscribers, new customers, and AT&T iPhone owners opting to switch to Verizon),” wrote Ryan Faas of ITworld (Jan 25).

“The company has announced that it will offer an unlimited data plan to iPhone customers for $30/month. The plan mirrors a similar unlimited option offered by AT&T when the iPhone 3G launched in 2008.”

It’s a bold move by Verizon, as it attempts to lure iPhone users away from AT&T, which canceled unlimited options for all devices last summer – introducing tiered pricing across the board (see AT&T Cuts Unlimited Data Plans).

However, Faas adds, Verizon’s new unlimited plan is only a limited-time offer. “Though no time frame is available, Verizon will eventually offer iPhone users its existing tiered data plans for smartphones – plans that are similar to AT&T’s current options.”

Faas speculates that Verizon is concerned potential new and existing customers will hold off getting a Verizon iPhone until the CDMA iPhone 4 launches this summer. “By offering a limited-time unlimited data option, Verizon is providing a good reason for users to make their iPhone purchase today. (Do users want): a brand new iPhone this summer or unlimited data for at least the next two years*?”

*If indeed Verizon decides to tie this option to a single two-year contract or if it will extend it indefinitely.

It will be interesting to see what path consumers decide to take, next month, or if they choose to go with the Verizon iPhone at all.

Topics: Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry

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