Four Organizations Sue the FCC Over Shut Down of Legacy Copper Telephone Networks

By John Eggerton; Original article here

Various groups have taken the FCC to court, appealing its decision on speeding the transition to fiber and the retirement of legacy networks to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, generally thought to be a more friendly venue than the D.C. Circuit.

Asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse and vacate the November order were

  • Public Knowledge,
  • The Greenlining Institute,
  • The Utility Reform Network, and the
  • National Association of State Utility Advocates.

In another remake of a decision under his Democratic predecessor, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the FCC’s Republican majority voted last month to make changes to the timetable for the copper-to-fiber-based IP network remakes, changes billed as “speeding the transition to modern broadband networks”.

Public Knowledge et al. support the Wheeler approach in 2015, which put in various requirements to maintain those legacy networks and services during the transition. Pai said at the time those were needlessly slowing the transition.

“The protections the FCC previously adopted ensured that the retirement of legacy phone services would be an upgrade for everyone, not an upgrade for some and a downgrade for others,” said Public Knowledge senior VP Harold Feld. “The FCC claims that removing these protection will encourage telephone companies to upgrade their networks more quickly. But it practically guarantees that these companies will continue to leave rural America behind.”

In their petition for review, the groups said that the decision was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion, and otherwise illegal.