Federal Appeals court rejects challenges to broadband internet expansion

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected [ruling, PDF] on Friday challenges to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) [official website] plan to expand broadband Internet service to rural areas. The FCC's plan is a $4.5 billion program which subsidizes high-speed Internet services in high-cost rural areas. The challengers of the FCC plan included many phone companies such AT&T and Verizon Wireless. It has been reported [New York Times report] that the phone companies fear that the FCC program will reduce profits as calls move from different carriers within low populated areas. Upon review, however, the federal appeals court upon believed that the phone companies arguments were "either unpersuasive or barred from judicial review." FCC spokeswoman Kim Heart stated in regards to the approval of Internet expansion to all Americans, "[w]ith today's across-the-board affirmance of our landmark 2011 reforms, the commission has tools in hand to accomplish that critical goal."

The FCC has faced ongoing controversy when it comes to regulating the Internet. Earlier this month the FCC adopted [JURIST report] new Internet traffic rules after the practice of net neutrality was struck down from a federal appeals court decision. Net neutrality has emerged as a major political issue in the US and internationally. In April the European Parliament approved [JURIST report] a net neutrality proposal that prohibits ISPs from enhancing or restricting services for selected Internet traffic. The proposed law, approved by a 534-25 vote with 58 abstentions, aims to treat all Internet traffic equally by making it illegal to block, slow down or give preferential treatment to certain specific applications and services for economic or other reasons. In February the FCC announced it will not appeal [JURIST report] the court ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] that struck down [JURIST report] net neutrality.

 

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