Trade groups mount legal challenges to FCC's new Internet rules

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen in Washington February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

By Malathi Nayak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cable and wireless trade groups filed separate lawsuits on Tuesday challenging the U.S. Federal Communications Commission over its new web traffic regulations.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, CTIA-The Wireless Association and American Cable Association filed petitions against so-called "net neutrality rules" in U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. These follow a similar challenge by USTelecom trade group in the same court on Monday.

The rules take effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register on Monday, a step that was expected to set off a series of lawsuits.

Approved in February and posted online on March 12, the FCC's new rules treat Internet service providers as more heavily regulated "telecommunications services," more like traditional telephone companies.

The groups in their filings said the rules were "arbitrary, capricious" and against various laws, regulations and procedures.

The new rules prevent broadband providers from blocking or slowing any Internet traffic and from striking deals with content companies for smoother delivery to consumers.

"Instead of promoting greater industry investment ...the FCC opted to resuscitate a command-and-control regulatory regime, including a process where innovators must first seek permission from the FCC before rolling out new services," CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement.

In a similar vein, NCTA's President Michael Powell said the FCC's "utility style regulation" was a cause of concern.

The FCC's new rules would particularly burden small cable operators, such as those with subscriber bases of thousand or less, American Cable Association President Matthew M. Polka said.

In March, Texas-based Internet provider Alamo Broadband Inc similarly challenged the FCC's rules in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have decried the FCC's new rules stating that they would thwart investment and innovation.

Telecom and broadband companies would continue to invest in improving and upgrading their services despite the new rules, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said at an industry event in Austin, Texas on Tuesday.

The cases are CTIA - The Wireless Assoc. v. FCC and United States of America, No. 15-1091 and National Cable & Telecom Assoc v. FCC and United States of America, No. 15-1090 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Grant McCool)