When T-Mobile sealed its merger with MetroPCS, we knew that several things were going to happen. T-Mobile would get MetroPCS's customers, for starters. And T-Mobile would start bringing 4G LTE online across the country. But what we couldn't predict was that the deal would have an impact on the Internet's future.
At T-Mobile's direction, MetroPCS has decided to withdraw from a key court case challenging the Federal Communications Commission's network-neutrality rules. Drawn up in 2011, the regulation in question prohibits companies from slowing your connection or charging you extra for using data-intensive Web services such as Netflix or Facebook. Oral arguments were expected to take place this month but were inexplicably delayed until at least the fall. Now, the lawsuit faces another setback.
The court could still wind up deciding in favor of the sole remaining plaintiff, Verizon. If it does, the ruling would not only threaten the FCC's ability to enforce net neutrality, but also its ability to regulate the broadband industry more generally. For now, though, it's Verizon that faces the bad news. A spokesman for the company declined to comment.
MetroPCS' withdrawal presents a welcome gift to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on his last day in office (to mark the occasion, he launched his own Twitter account).
"I applaud T-Mobile’s decision to withdraw from this litigation," he said in a statement.