The D.C. Circuit held today that the Federal Communications Commission has the power, under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to require Internet service providers (ISPs) to "adhere to open network management practices." Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, No. 11-1355 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 14, 2014).
But the panel also ruled that, because the FCC had chosen not to treat ISPs as "common carriers", its "net neutrality" regulations violated statutory mandates against imposing effective common carrier rules on non-common carriers.
[W]hen an edge provider such as YouTube transmits some sort of content — say, a video of a cat — to an end user, that content is broken down into packets of information, which are carried by the edge provider’s local access provider to the backbone network, which transmits these packets to the end user’s local access provider, which, in turn, transmits the information to the end user, who then views and hopefully enjoys the cat.