Cable Trade Group Enters Legal Defense of FCC’s Net Neutrality Pushback

The American Cable Association has entered the legal defense of the Federal Communications Commission’s ruling to roll back Internet regulatory provisions, also known as Net Neutrality.

The ACA March 16 filed a motion to intervene in the case with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

The court was selected by lottery to hear the case challenging the FCC’s ruling last December to reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as information service providers. That action – restoring lighter regulatory oversight in a 3-2 vote along political lines – overturned the prior FCC’s 2015 ruling that classified ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

In the motion, the ACA said it meets the requirements for intervention as a trade association of small and medium-sized cable companies. Many of ACA’s members provide broadband Internet access service, and thus are “directly affected” by the FCC’s declaratory ruling.

ACA member companies, which include not only traditional cable operators but also municipally owned systems and electric co-ops, pass over 18 million homes mostly in rural areas and small cities and provide a wide range of services, including video, voice, high-speed Internet, and dedicated fiber-optic connections to more than 7 million subscribers.

The ACA claims that despite assertions to the contrary by advocates of Net Neutrality, smaller ISPs represented by ACA have provided their customers with unrestricted access to Internet content on a consistent basis. It says tougher regulation hampers investment.

“The unwarranted common carrier burdens associated with Title II made these ISPs reluctant to [expand] their broadband networks and explore offering innovative services,” said the ACA.

The trade group contends the FCC’s move to rollback Net Neutrality guidelines would benefit the entire Internet economy, especially consumers. Net Neutrality advocates claim the opposite.