Verizon wins first battle in network neutrality fight

Even as the Federal Communications Commission moves to dismiss Verizon’s (s vz) lawsuit against its network neutrality rules, Big Red gained a victory, as the courts have consolidated the lawsuits surrounding the FCC rules at the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit. That’s the same court that gutted the FCC’s authority in the Comcast (s cmcsa) P2P case. Back in January, when Verizon filed its first suit, I explained that the first fight for those suing over the FCC’s ability to determine if ISPs could discriminate against the packets running over their networks would be choosing a battlefield. I wrote:

It’s no coincidence that Verizon has filed in the very conservative D.C. Appeals court, which has previously struck down FCC rulings, and sees the FCC’s power as limited when it comes to network neutrality. It’s also no coincidence that Verizon’s lawyer in this case, Helgi Walker of Wiley Rein LLP, is the same lawyer who argued for Comcast in the ruling that called the FCC’s authority on network neutrality and even broadband services into question. Other interest groups or companies will likely file lawsuits in friendlier courts in California or other areas of the country where the judges are more likely to rule in favor of the FCC.

Of course, every case is different, and there’s no guarantee any judge, even one inclined to be more conservative, will strike down the rules enacted by the FCC in this case. However, thanks to a ruling in April 2010 by that same court, the FCC has been treading on thin legal authority with regard to enacting rules that govern how applications are sent over networks. I explained the issue in depth here, and in a GigaOM Pro report (sub req’d). For technology firms and companies that are relying on an Internet unencumbered by ISPs messing with packets on their networks, this is not a good beginning to the lawsuit.