Net neutrality

Net neutrality battles continue.

Internet provider groups had already sued California over its net neutrality law. Now, they’ve also targeted Vermont, which has passed a similar law guaranteeing an open Internet.

Five industry groups representing Internet providers have sued Vermont. According to Reuters:

The trade associations are also challenging an executive order on the issue signed by Vermont Governor Phil Scott. Other states, including New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Montana and Hawaii, have adopted similar rules to bar state contracts from companies not complying with net neutrality protections.

Scott said he was disappointed the lawsuit was filed against the state “for taking action to protect our citizens and our economy.” The Republican governor said he believed Vermont residents “have a right to free and open access to information on the internet. In the absence of a national standard to protect that right, states must act.”

The Vermont lawsuit was filed by the American Cable Association; CTIA – The Wireless Association; NCTA – The Internet & Television Association; USTelecom – The Broadband Association and the New England Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The state actions and industry lawsuits have resulted from the push by the Republican-led FCC to repeal Obama-era rules that required internet providers to treat web traffic equally. The repeal of those rules was pushed by the providers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claims the repeal has brought more investment in networks. CNET reports:

Pai said the findings, published Thursday by broadband trade group USTelecom, show that broadband spending increased by $1.5 billion from 2016 to 2017, validating his policies, which focus on cutting regulatory red tape.

“Today’s report confirms that the FCC’s policies to promote broadband deployment are working,” Pai said in a statement.

Critics, including former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, have pointed out that the industry spent at a strong pace when net neutrality was in place.

“I would hope people see through this nonsense, and realize what financial analysts that cover this industry know: light-touch regulation is simply not a factor in ISPs’ investment decisions,” Tim Karr, a spokesman for Free Press, a pro net neutrality activist group, said.