It looks like Federal Register publication of the net neutrality rules is set for September 23.
A couple of days ago we confirmed some movement on the net neutrality front, and also noted trade press reports that final publication of the FCC’s magnum opus on the “open Internet” might be coming up soon. Sure enough – CommLawBlog understands that Federal Register publication of the net neutrality order has been teed up for tomorrow, September 23, with an effective date of November 20, 2011 for the new rules. Of course, nothing will be official until the actual publication occurs, but it’s looking like tomorrow will be the day.
Whenever Federal Register publication does occur, it will mark the beginning (but only the beginning) of the next phase of the process. Publication is the starting gun for petitions for reconsideration (due at the FCC within 30 days of Federal Register publication) and initiation of appellate review (due at any U.S. Court of Appeals within 60 days of publication). It’s also possible that some parties may seek a stay of the effectiveness of the rules – obviously, those efforts would have to be cranked up prior to the effective date.
We know for sure that Verizon is likely to take the rules to court. It already tried back in January, 2011 – but found itself on the outside looking in when the D.C. Circuit dismissed its initial notice of appeal as premature. And given the loud and extended debate about the question of governmental regulation of the Internet – a debate ably addressed and, to a degree, deflated by our colleague Mitchell Lazarus last January – the odds are good that Verizon will not be alone.
As we have previously pointed out, there’s also a good chance that petitions for judicial review will be filed with a number of different circuits. Anyone planning on filing such a petition should be sure to review the helpful public notice issued by the FCC’s General Counsel back in January, laying out the important steps to be taken to assure that your entry is included in any judicial lottery that might have to be conducted to pick the circuit that will ultimately hear the appeal. (Call us crazy, but we suspect that that notice was issued in anticipation of multiple petitions going to multiple circuits with respect to the net neutrality order.)
Check back with us here at CommLawBlog for further developments on the net neutrality front.