Net Neutrality debate set to re-heat

The telecom industry hasn’t focused much on Net Neutrality this year, but that doesn’t mean the issue has been resolved. The topic is likely to be front and center again soon, now that the White House Office of Management and Budget reportedly has signed off on Net Neutrality guidelines issued by the FCC many months ago.

Pundits say that means the guidelines should be published in the Federal Register within the next three weeks—and Verizon undoubtedly has the equivalent of a Google alert set up to let the company know when that occurs, at which time it will make haste to re-file the Net Neutrality challenge that a federal court rejected back in January (unfiltered: FCC asks court to dismiss Verizon and Metro PCS Net Neutrality challenges). At that time, the court said no one could challenge the Net Neutrality guidelines until they were published in the Federal Register.

Metro PCS also challenged the guidelines and was told back in January that its challenge was premature—although its move may have been made primarily as a defensive measure against consumer group charges that some of its policies were in violation of Net Neutrality guidelines.

Whether Metro PCS re-files may depend on how aggressively consumer groups pursue the company this time around. The consumer groups’ accusations against Metro PCS also were too early (unfiltered: Net Neutrality tables turned: This time it’s supporters who queued up too early, argues MetroPCS).

AT&T probably isn’t too crazy about the Net Neutrality guidelines either—but unless and until its plan to merge with T-Mobile is rejected, the carrier is likely to keep its NN opinions to itself so as not to jeopardize the deal.

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