What you need to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the P711 rule
The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the FCC has to regulate “plug-and-play” wireless networks, a major victory for wireless carriers who argue that the rules are too onerous.
The justices ruled 5-4 that the government cannot impose the new rules until the end of 2020.
That’s in addition to the existing rules, which the FCC finalized last year.
But the justices ruled that the commission could require the new wireless rules to be made available to carriers to use in the same manner as the existing ones.
“Because of the complexity of the P5, the Commission is unable to require that all existing devices be made interoperable with all future devices,” the ruling said.
“The Commission may impose new, additional burdens if necessary to ensure interoperability.
The Commission must determine how it will do so, including by determining how to treat any devices that fall outside the scope of the regulations.”
While the ruling does not require a change in the way the FCC regulates wireless carriers, the court did take issue with a section of the FCC’s rules that the justices deemed to be “unworkable” because it requires carriers to keep “information about the wireless network” on their devices.
The court also said the FCC must create a “clear and understandable explanation” for the rules, but it could also require the agency to reclassify the existing regulations.
The ruling came just hours after the Supreme to begin hearing arguments in a case challenging the rules in a separate lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We think the Supreme court has made a significant error in the rule of law,” ACLU President Anthony Romero said.
The P7-11 ruling means the FCC can impose rules that apply to new devices, but only for “the devices that are designed and manufactured prior to October 1, 2019.”
If the rules were to be applied to older devices, they would have to be reclassified.
But there is no deadline for the agency’s rules to go into effect.
In other words, carriers may be able to sell devices with older versions of the software and equipment that they use for their wireless networks.
The FCC also said it will work with other stakeholders to ensure that wireless networks can be “consistently and seamlessly” supported by new devices.
This means it will require carriers to implement the new software and other devices in a way that makes them interoperable.
The new rules will take effect in 2020.
The case was brought by AT&T, which argues that the P6 rules are “an unworkable, redundant, and burdensome regulatory regime.”
AT&am says the new standards will hurt wireless providers, hurt competition, and discourage new entrants.