Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should Net Neutrality Apply to Mobile Broadband?

While the FCC is trying to defend its net neutrality rules to preserve an open internet, mobile broadband has been left alone. There are no current net neutrality rules for cellular providers and none are proposed for the future. Comcast, the cable internet provider, has been protesting that fact. In their submission to the FCC regarding net neutrality, Comcast had this to say about mobile broadband and net neutrality,

'“Unlike the broad no-blocking and nondiscrimination rules applicable to fixed services, the [2010] no-blocking rule for mobile services applied only to websites and to applications that ‘compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services,’ and there was no non-discrimination rule at all for mobile services,” Comcast wrote. “While such regulatory distinctions might have been defensible in 2010, the NPRM’s [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking's] recognition of the ‘significant changes since 2010 in the mobile marketplace’—including ‘how mobile providers manage their networks, the increased use of Wi-Fi, and the increased use of mobile devices and applications‘—supports at least a refreshed examination of that approach. There is no question that wireless is increasingly becoming a closer substitute for wireline broadband for many uses and for many Americans.”

In addition, the lobbying arm of major Internet companies like Google and Facebook, the Internet Association, is making the same argument as Comcast the regarding regulation of cellular networks. They also argue more and more people are accessing the Internet via their mobile phones.

Is wireless becoming a substitute for wireline and if so, why is wireless exempt from net neutrality rules?

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