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U.S. Internet service providers associations to take the lead against net neutrality bill

Trade associations representing large U.S. Internet service providers are expected to take the lead in suing the Federal Communications Commission over its new web traffic regulations, according to several people familiar with the plan.

U.S. telecom and cable firms have said they would challenge the FCC’s latest “net neutrality” rules in court. But at least some companies, including Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), are currently not planning to bring individual lawsuits and instead aim to participate through trade groups, the sources said.

Such an approach would allow companies to streamline their litigation efforts and could help firms avoid drawing any fire individually, as Verizon did after it challenged the previous version of net neutrality rules on its own in 2010.

At least three trade groups are expected to file legal challenges: CTIA-The Wireless Association, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the broadband association USTelecom, the sources said. The three trade groups declined comment.

Other trade groups such as the American Cable Association and the National Association of Manufacturers are weighing whether to participate in litigation, representatives said.

“We believe there will be a lot of litigation, which will probably be led by industry associations,” Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo told Reuters this week.

The company is likely to hold back from filing an individual lawsuit, said an industry source familiar with Verizon’s plan, citing the company’s shared concerns with other members of trade associations.

T-Mobile, too, said it was not planning to get involved in lawsuits at this point. “We have not at all been vocal on the negative side of the camp and the folks that are talking about litigation,” Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said in an interview.

Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast  have decried the FCC’s vote last month to regulate broadband as a “telecommunications service” similar to traditional telephone service, instead of a more lightly regulated “information service.”

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Source: Reuters

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