A federal appeals court in Washington, DC upheld the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules today

, ending a battle that dates back to early 2015 and scoring a major victory for the FCC and net neutrality activists.

In their 2-1 ruling, the three-person court agreed that the internet should be regulated as a utility. That's immensely important: net neutrality can only exist if the FCC can regulate ISPs, and the government has much more power to regulate utilities than they do to regulate luxuries. In the United States, utilities are supposed to be equally accessible to all Americans. They're subject to all kinds of regulations, including rate regulations.

That's why the FCC declared the internet to be a utility back in 2015, and that declaration is what sparked this court battle. Now, with this victory, the FCC will have more power than ever to impose new rules on ISPs. That's bad for ISPs but great for net neutrality proponents, because the FCC now has more power than ever to prevent ISPs from destroying net neutrality by, for instance, carving internet access into tiered packages at different prices.

Of course, this isn't necessarily over. AT&T and its cable allies have already indicated a willingness to appeal this case yet again. If they succeed in winning an appeal, the case will be heard by the Supreme Court. AT&T executive and general counsel David McAtee II told the New York Times that the company “always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court.” That may very well be what happens.