Wheeler had originally proposed net neutrality rules without reclassifying broadband as a regulated telecom service, but in the last months of the FCC's net neutrality proceeding, he called for reclassification. Many critics objected, saying Wheeler was unduly influenced by President Barack Obama's support of reclassification.
The FCC, in a 3-2, party-line decision, voted in February 2015 to pass the new net neutrality rules barring broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic.
The commission, in an effort to give the rules a solid legal foundation, also voted to reclassify broadband from a lightly regulated information service to a more heavily regulated telecommunications service.
In the following months, more than a dozen groups filed lawsuits challenging the reclassification of broadband. Among the plaintiffs are broadband providers AT&T and CenturyLink and trade groups CTIA, USTelecom, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
Since the FCC passed the regulations, often called the open Internet rules, consumers and groups have filed more than 18,000 complaints against broadband providers.
Judge Stephen Williams concurred with part of the appeal court majority's opinion and dissented from other parts. "To the extent that the Commission justified the switch on the basis of new policy perceptions, its explanation of the policy is watery thin and self-contradictory," Williams wrote.
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