"I'm authorized to state by my client today that but for these rules, we would be exploring those types of arrangements," Verizon's attorney, Helgi Walker, said at the time.
Four months later, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Verizon and struck the rules down.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is now trying to rework the net-neutrality rules in a way that can survive future court challenges. His proposal has sparked a massive public backlash because it would allow Internet providers to charge websites for faster access as long as the agreements are "commercially reasonable."
The agency has received more than 1 million comments—most of them outraged, and many of them laced with profanity.
Perhaps recognizing the political controversy over the issue, Verizon's competitors are taking a softer approach to the possibility of charging websites.
AT&T supported the old regulations, and in its filing this week on the new proposal, the telecom giant said it wouldn't oppose "reasonable rules" that totally banned paid prioritization of Internet traffic.
Comcast said it would accept an FCC "presumption" against all fast-lane deals. The burden of proof would be on broadband providers to show that a particular deal would be good for consumers under Comcast's plan. Unlike every other provider, Comcast is bound to follow the old rules until 2018 because of a regulatory condition on its purchase of NBC-Universal.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the lobbying group that represents the cable industry, said the FCC shouldn't ban fast lanes. But the group also dismissed the importance of the issue, saying it's unlikely that any fast-lane deal would "gain traction in the marketplace."
In its comment, Verizon did say it has "no plans" to charge websites for faster service. But the company argued that such deals could be good for Web companies because it could allow them to "adapt their services quickly in a competitive marketplace."
"Given the potential benefits all around, such arrangements should be permissible and should be tested in light of consumer demand rather than resolved through regulatory wrangling," the company wrote.
Google, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, and other major Web companies have all argued that allowing broadband providers to create special tiers of service represents a "grave threat" to the Internet.
Harold Feld, the senior vice president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, wondered whether Verizon has a specific plan in mind for traffic discrimination—contrary to the company's claims to the FCC.
The telecom giant's position may throw a wrench into a potential compromise for Wheeler. Feld predicted that the other carriers would agree to regulations that banned paid prioritization, but that Verizon would probably just sue again.
"As long as Verizon is going to be the odd man out, there can't be a compromise along those lines," Feld said.