War for the Web
30 09.11

A big day

The FCC is publishing a new set of “Network Neutrality” rules in November. This set of rules has been highly anticipated. In fact, Verizon has already tried to sue the FCC over the network neutrality rules but was stymied because the rules had not been published yet. So it is only natural for us to expect a lawsuit now that the rules have been published.

But the lawsuit is coming from a different quarter. Free Press, the organization formerly chaired by father of Network Neutrality Tim Wu, has filed a lawsuit against the FCC over the new set of rules. They take issue with the extent of the rules just as Verizon, Metro PCS, and a variety of others do. Unlike the wireline and mobile internet providers in this country, however, Free Press does not feel that the rules go far enough.

The new rules lay out fairly strict regulation on what Internet service providers can do, but are much stricter with fixed wireline service providers. This means that wireless service providers, such as cell phone providers and others like them, have far fewer restrictions than traditional broadband providers. Free Press wants the same restrictions on both wireless and wired service providers and are suing to try to force the FCC to regulate.

Wireless and fixed Internet Service Providers both have the same ability to restrict access to content on the Internet and Free Press feels that they should be subject to the same rules. It makes a certain amount of sense because the wireless and wired broadband markets face some of the same problems. Both are largely run by monopolies although the wireless market is more open to competition. The costs of infrastructure investment are high for both, largely because much of the infrastructure is very similar. It makes the most sense for them to be subject to the same regulation in regards to content, if either is to be regulated at all.

Here is a longer article about the problem.

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