Extending a chameleon concept/rule to mobile networks

Posted on September 17, 2014  /  2 Comments

Net neutrality sticks in one’s mind. Alliteration helps. The guy who cooked up the term ran for Lieutenant Governor nomination in New York and lost, but not too badly. Guess that helps explain its inherent openness to multiple meaning imposition.

Net neutrality has an extraordinary range of meanings, not all consistent with each other. Just today, I saw a tweet complaining about a hotel asking a guest to pay for faster Internet (while offering slow Internet bundled with the room charge). The tweet began: “Net neutrality?” According to this logic, the same book being available at a library and bookshop, the first paid for by tax-payers and the second by private funds, would be a violation of “net neutrality” as applied to books.

I haven’t studied the FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making, but I sure hope they have clarified the meaning of the chameleon concept. It would be a tragedy if it keeps being extended without the concept being clarified.

The reasons for extending net neutrality to mobile networks are interesting. Most of the world has been connecting to the Internet over wireless networks for some time now. If the FCC wants to know how that played out, there is no need to spin hypotheticals. The evidence is there. The sky did not fall for lack of rules.

“There have been significant changes in the mobile marketplace since 2010,” he said, referring to the year the commission first passed net neutrality rules, with mobile networks excluded. Those rules were later thrown out by a federal appeals court.

In 2010, 200,000 Americans subscribed to the fastest mobile broadband technology, known as LTE. Now 120 million of them subscribe to it, and 300 million have access to high-speed mobile networks.

“The basic issue that is raised is whether the old assumptions upon which the 2010 rules were based match new realities,” Mr. Wheeler said.

. . . . . . . . .

Now, with advanced LTE networks complete, a growing portion of consumers use mobile as their primary method of connecting to the Internet, meaning a wireless exemption would leave those consumers without net neutrality protection.

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, in 2011, blacks and Latinos were more than twice as likely as whites to use mobile phones as their main source of Internet access; people with annual incomes of less than $30,000 also were more than twice as likely to use primarily mobile broadband as people with incomes of more than $50,000.



  1. Net Neutrality (NN) – hardly neutral!

    I agree much of the NN debate (if you can elevate ‘lobbying’) defies consistent definition. It is not clear to me that additional regulation to solve a future a myriad of possible market failures is a good idea unless the objective is to generate a business opportunity for telco lawyers and placard makers! What is clear to me (as a lapsed technologist) is that transparent and non discriminatory network management is essential for a sustainable mobile internet.