Thursday, October 27, 2011

CTIA Backs Net Neutrality Rules

CTIA-the Wireless Association, a trade group that represents wireless carriers, filed a motion in federal court supporting the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality regulations. CTIA backs net neutrality rules

Four public interest groups, including Free Press, have sued the FCC, arguing that the agency's net neutrality rules do not go far enough. 

The CTIA filing might strike some as odd, to the extent that the industry group is supporting mandatory "best effort only" broadband access. Sometimes, half a loaf is better than no loaf. The rules allow mobile service providers greater freedom to manage their networks, in principle also preserving the ability to create quality of service mechanisms. 

Even for service providers that operate both fixed and mobile networks, freedom for the strategic mobile business means it is an acceptable compromise to give up the ability to create quality of service mechanisms for fixed line broadband access. 

Of course, there already is a challenge to all of the rules, filed by Verizon Wireless, so fixed-line interests are not completely sacrificed as a result of CTIA support for the net neutrality rules. 

For some, net neutrality is about denying ISPs the legal right to create new revenue-generating products that create quality of service mechanisms, as this is said to create a "two tier" Internet. Sometimes people mistakenly believe it is about "content blocking." 

In the former case, if there are restraint of trade issues, they can be dealt with by the Federal Trade Commission. There is a legitimate concern that ISPs might favor their own services over rival services by applying QoS only to "owned" services, not to all services willing to pay for such QoS. But many would note that other remedies already exist for such situations. 

In the latter case, the FCC and all ISPs already have agreed that consumers have the right to access all lawful content. 

For others it is about both consumer choice and network management, in the former case the right of a consumer to buy services that optimize voice, video or gaming experiences, in the latter case the simple necessity of managing a shared resource. In either case, anti-competitive conduct can be restrained by either effective market competition or the FTC. 

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