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A federal court will not rehear the telecom industry’s net neutrality challenge

Judges said the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai plans to gut the rules anyway.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai Addresses 2017 NAB Show In Las Vegas Ethan Miller / Getty

A U.S. federal court on Monday denied a request by the nation’s telecom giants to rehear arguments challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, citing the fact that the agency is now trying to scrap the Obama administration’s work.

In March 2015, the likes of AT&T, Comcast* and Verizon — acting through their Washington lobbying groups — sued the FCC for adopting open-internet protections that subject internet service providers to some of the same regulations that long have applied to traditional telephone companies.

A three-judge panel on the D.C. circuit initially ruled last June in the FCC’s favor, prompting the group, USTelecom, and its allies in the wireless and cable industries to seek a rehearing before the full court.

After a lengthy wait, though, the judges on Monday denied that request, specifically pointing to actions by new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who just last week unveiled his plans to eliminate and potentially replace the agency’s net neutrality rules.

For that reason, a rehearing on the rules “would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC’s Order,” wrote Judges Sri Srinivasan and David Tatel.

“In that light, the en banc court could find itself examining, and pronouncing on, the validity of a rule that the agency had already slated for replacement,” they wrote.

* Comcast, through its NBCU arm, is an investor in Vox Media, which owns this website.

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