US groups make last pitches on net neutrality

New net neutrality rules could hurt broadband innovation, some opponents argue

Net neutrality rules proposed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission could upset a complex mobile telecom marketplace and lead to fewer handset choices and fewer smartphone applications, a mobile trade group said Monday.

Net neutrality rules could upset a "virtuous cycle" of mobile development and innovation in the U.S., said officials with CTIA, which represents several mobile carriers. CTIA was one of several groups making a last pitch to the FCC about net neutrality on Monday, the deadline for reply comments in the agency's net neutrality rulemaking proceeding.

"To us, it's a completely interdependent ecosystem," said Christopher Guttman-McCabe, CTIA's vice president for regulatory affairs. "You can't touch one [segment of the mobile industry] without impacting the others."

The FCC asked whether it should extend proposed net neutrality rules to mobile broadband networks in its notice of proposed rulemaking, released in October. CTIA opposes formal net neutrality rules for wireline carriers, and is even more concerned about new regulations in the mobile industry, where bandwidth limitations are more pronounced.

There have been no complaints of mobile broadband carriers selectively blocking or slowing Internet content, said Steve Largent, CTIA's president and CEO. "We're kind of wondering, where's the harm?" he said. "There are no customers coming to the FCC saying, 'the wireless industry has wronged us.'"

Others planning to file comments Monday called for net neutrality rules. The FCC rules, as proposed, would prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing legal Web content or applications. The rules would also require broadband providers to tell customers about their network management practices.

The FCC moved to formalize a set of net neutrality principles about a year after it prohibited Comcast from slowing its subscribers' access to peer-to-peer services and other applications. Comcast appealed the FCC's enforcement of its 2005 net neutrality principles, and earlier this month, a U.S. appeals court threw out the FCC's Comcast decision.

While opponents of new net neutrality rules have argued there have been few examples of problems, in recent weeks DSL (digital subscriber line) provider Windstream was accused of hijacking subscriber search queries, and cable-based broadband provider RCN settled a lawsuit accusing it of blocking peer-to-peer traffic, noted Derek Turner, research director of Free Press, a media reform group and net neutrality advocate.

"It's clear that violations of the open Internet are ongoing and kept secret from consumers," Turner said in an e-mail. "If the FCC fails to establish basic rules of the road, we can expect much more of the same from broadband providers. The fundamental question before policymakers is: Who should be trusted with the future of the Internet, these companies that have repeatedly violated open Internet principles, or consumers?"

The question about net neutrality rules is not whether they're needed, but when the FCC will act, said the Center for Media Justice, the New America Foundation, Consumers Union and Media Access Project in a joint filing Monday.

"The public interest groups submitting these comments maintain that the Federal Communications Commission must act to preserve the open Internet, and that it should do so now," the groups said. "The record developed during this proceeding is clear, and the need for the rules proposed by the commission becomes even more clear with each disclosure of additional broadband Internet access service provider misconduct."

Content discrimination by broadband providers threatens the "structure and functioning" of the Internet, the groups added. Net neutrality rules are "essential to promoting free expression, economic opportunity, civic participation, civil rights, and social equality online and in society at large," they wrote.

But broadband providers are working to provide subscribers with the best service they can, countered Bright House Networks, a broadband provider based in Orlando, Florida.

"Proponents of broadband Internet regulation claim that every form of network management and every claim of 'discrimination' in handling traffic may be challenged and must be presumed unlawful unless the network operator proves a public benefit and a management technique as narrowly drawn as possible," the company said in its filing Monday. "There is no record to support such a rule or such presumptions. Instead, the record is that subscribers are being given better and better access to the Internet."

Supporters of new net neutrality rules haven't showed the need for new regulations, added James Cicconi, senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs at broadband provider AT&T. Backers of significant new regulations have a special burden to prove their case, Cicconi wrote on AT&T's public policy blog.

"Yet, after six months in the FCC's comment process, and nearly six years of arguing the issue, proponents of extreme net neutrality regulation have failed utterly when it comes to making their case," he said. "To be sure, they've used fear masterfully to create the impression of a crisis, and hyperbole to manufacture a threat. But when the time has come to put-up-or-shut-up, those same groups have failed to identify any existing problem they are trying to solve, or indeed any specific conduct the government must act to correct."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags net neutrality

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?